Over 1,000 new Airbnb listings added in Vancouver within a month of new rules coming into effect

More than 1,000 new Airbnb listings have appeared on the platform within a month of new Airbnb rules came into effect in Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver claimed that the number of listings on Airbnb had fallen from 6,600 in April to 3,742 on September 1, but the scan of the Airbnb website I ran last night shows that the number has crept up to 4,743.

A majority of the listings may be violating City of Vancouver’s short term rental bylaws.

This includes 1,257 duplicate licences, 403 claiming dubious exemptions, 76 obviously fake licenses, and 252 units using invalid or expired licences. Moreover, 2295 units are run by operators who run more than one listing, potentially in breach of the short term rental bylaw.

To meaningfully protect our long term rental market from being decimated by Airbnb and other short term accommodation platforms, we must take the following steps:

  1. Introduce licence auto-verification, so, we can nip unlicensed units and licence cheats in the bud
  2. Introduce a tough new bylaw and agreements that hold platforms accountable for the hosts’ actions
  3. Make Airbnb fines lienable, so that the city can place liens against egregious violators who refuse to pay the fines

At the same time, the City should use fines collected from short term rental violators to help the Airbnb’s greatest victims: the renters.

I believe Vancouver should take care of those who take care of our city and our citizens. I dream of a place where those who contribute to our communities are able to afford to live in the city. I’m running for city councillor to see that dream come true. Please help me by donating and volunteering to my campaign.

Please find me on Twitter, Facebook and Github.

578 new Airbnb listings added in the last 10 days

Vancouver’s chief licencing officer announced with much fanfare that the number of Airbnb listings in the city have dropped from around 6,600 in April to just 3,742 in September. But in just 10 days since the City of Vancouver’s September 5 announcement, hosts have added 578 news listings, bringing the total to 4,320.

Out of these 578 listings, at least 400 appear to be listings claiming dubious exemptions, or listings with obviously fake, incorrect or duplicate licences.

To meaningfully protect our long term rental market from being decimated by Airbnb and other short term accommodation platforms, we must take the following steps:

  1. Introduce licence auto-verification, so, we can nip unlicensed units and licence cheats in the bud
  2. Introduce a tough new bylaw and agreements that hold platforms accountable for the hosts’ actions
  3. Make Airbnb fines lienable, so that the city can place liens against egregious violators who refuse to pay the fines

At the same time, the City should use fines collected from short term rental violators to help the Airbnb’s greatest victims: the renters.

Vancouver has a fake Airbnb licence problem

Airbnb hosts seem to be getting around the new City of Vancouver’s licensing requirements by using brazenly fake licences. Some fine examples include “12345678str”, “000000000” and “Exampp”.

ListingLicenceRoom TypeNamePrimary Host IDMin. Nights
197221420entire_homeModern Strathcona Garden Suite367187462
2755792400-0000entire_homeKits summer suite2079252221
246318798-555339entire_homeThe Cozy Garden Suite1861425361
2492020813-124323shared_roomBright room by the beach1682346871
2801036415-595467private_roomOak House - Room 3 Newly Renovated Character Home1326870121
2582238616-102468entire_home?????????????????1940389583
2641803716-904523entire_homeModern Loft - The Flats in Chinatown203018222
2805811516-6767678entire_homeLangara Guesthouse2119646141
1260299317-2341Aprivate_room#32 Wow ~ View, Kits Location. Min. 30 day stay.316850275
2780565717-14567entire_homeJoyce two bedroom396744921
2453525917-23487entire_homeNew York Style Down Town Loft One Bed in Yaletown311890711
2121992117-100317entire_homeLOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!1533086792
1488890317-101096entire_homeModern Yaletown Studio close to everything no pkng668454672
2763748317-101101entire_homeWater View Sanctuary2085629411
2378997217-101196entire_homeGastown Style with a View12698593
2567952017-101597entire_homeHeart of Yaletown933800354
2821843917-101598entire_homeNEW Spacious studio in the heart of Downtown!2131387852
2467763717-108090entire_homeSophisticated & Luxurious 1 Bdrm23008981
1188980717-111993entire_homeSPECIAL Kitsilano Bright Van 2 bedroom295815351
2719833317-113568entire_homeOne Bedroom & Den in Yaletown with View & Parking2048125532
1969805717-147787entire_homeCozy and Spacious House in Beautiful Neighbourhood1387723052
2615785317-227772entire_homeDowntown 1 Bedroom & Bath with Den/Office1108190914
281203817-241295entire_homeVancouver 2 bd trendy Main street52138921
2219780217-573612entire_homeCozy Apartment in the heart of Yaletown1622036641
2813686617-614632entire_homeDowntown Luxury with stunning view 1.5 bedroom apt362384763
2476093417-873475entire_homeUpscale And Modern 2 BR In The Heart Of Downtown!123336102
1137127917-905634entire_homePrivate Garden suite: Nice views AVAIL SEPT 14-1698816412
2701947219-102359entire_homeYaletown Condo/Free Parking/24 Hour Gym725373823
2324123120-856044entire_homeMODERN & BEAUTIFUL 2BR in the Heart of Downtown!1711493035
65998686-13134private_roomNear DOWNTOWN+CAMBIE---PRIVATE BATH848203
491606486-13134private_roomBRIGHT ROOM near BC HOSPITALS / SKYTRAIN/ DOWNTOWN848201
27134169123123entire_homePrivate Space in the East Village604117421
26786562589779private_roomBright Beautiful Room349454831
27086551589779private_roomSimple room for solo travelers349454831
27085753589779private_roomBeautiful master bedroom349454831
27085935589779private_roomQuite room in Kerrisdale349454831
27092067589779private_roomPrivate room in Kerrisdale349454831
27579649589779entire_homeBig Beautiful home349454833
2532592512345678strentire_homeMi Casa Su Casa - My House Is Your House1906932941
2714231117101095entire_homeLovely Penthouse - View - Heart of Downtown1979815091
23353187878287762entire_homeLuxury 2 Bd,2bath Downtown w/Street Level Entrance750021972
21345540C27562bcentire_homeLuxury Bar Boat fits 10532281921
27954001DB-2017-05485private_roomGuest House-4 Convenient to Downtown2111407382
27957252DB-2017-05485private_roomGuest House-6 Convenient to Downtown2111407383
27675765Examppprivate_roomVancouver Multi-unit building859952961
17833138Excemptentire_homePanoramic Water + Mountain View in Gastown1217869064
25426653Pendingentire_homeCharming Laneway Home in the Heart of East Van84002153
26495317pending approvalprivate_roomBeautiful kingsize room in the heart of East Van!1129546732
26496921pending approvalentire_homeBeautiful 2 bed kingsize garden suite in East Van!1129546733
17404142STR8549512entire_homeNEW 2BR private suite, near subway, city centre143010355
26997674STR8549599shared_roomNew house Super luxury Excellent room balcony .964657031
111077STR8613765entire_homeClean and Comfy, 2 Bd, Walk to the Drive5696823
6285444Valid Vancouver Airbnb businesentire_homeDesigner Home w/PLAYROOM 5min to Downtown16159392

To meaningfully protect our long term rental market from being decimated by Airbnb and other short term accommodation platforms, we must take the following steps:

  1. Introduce licence auto-verification, so, we can nip unlicensed units and licence cheats in the bud
  2. Introduce a tough new bylaw and agreements that hold platforms accountable for the hosts’ actions
  3. Make Airbnb fines lienable, so that the city can place liens against egregious violators who refuse to pay the fines

Aribnb listings using licences issued for other businesses

Airbnb hosts seem to be getting around the new licensing requirements by using licences issued for other businesses, including licences for massage therapist, computer services and health services.

Listing IDLicenceLicence TypeRoom TypeName
44810418-587591Apartment House Strataentire_homeModern Charm in Downtown Vancouver
73289518-586073Apartment House Strataentire_homeBest Location in Downtown - Bright Beautiful 1bdr
675974418-601280Apartment House Strataentire_homeAmazing Location, Great View
2338192318-602677Apartment House Strataentire_homeLuxurious Yaletown 2 bed with gorgeous water views
2397681418-604969Apartment House Strataentire_homeStudio Condo in Olympic Village (brand new)
2397657418-604969Apartment House Strataentire_homeBrand new condo Olympic Village
2623590618-587598Apartment House Strataentire_home?Downtown w/ parking, in-suite laundry, amenities?
83833618-535826Apartment House Strataentire_home3 BEDROOM, 3 LEVEL TOWNHOUSE
129139418-549007Secondary Suite - Permanententire_homeClean New Kits 3 bedroom/ 2bath!
1978828918-439405Duplexprivate_roomKitsilano Hidden Gem
Now can sleep up to 4
2401663318-547315Non-profit Housingentire_home#319 Self-contained, double-occupancy suite
901453418-454788Multiple Dwellingprivate_roomBEAUTIFUL SHAUNGHNESSY MANSION
2259813118-550192Secondary Suite - Permanententire_homeModern Lower Level Suite on Quiet Street
1652204818-517152Secondary Suite - Permanententire_homecozy 1 bedroom suite near main street
1403862318-475851Secondary Suite - Permanententire_homeModern Family Home across from Park & Tennis Cour
2392554918-602680Apartment House Strataentire_homeFabulous One Bed w/ Coal Harbour View
2819993418-453877Massage Therapistprivate_roomAMAZING Unobstructed Ocean/Marina/Mountain Views!
2594193818-454906Multiple Dwellingentire_home??????????????
2168199918-579426One-Family Dwellingentire_homeHigh end apartment Downtown-Great Amenities!!
218811318-554147Apartment House Strataentire_home5 star Luxury ShangriLa hotel condo
1808940118-587593Apartment House Strataentire_homeStudio With Parking in the Heart of Downtown
504032018-601276Apartment House Strataentire_homeGorgeous 1-Bdr Walk Everywhere!
2048430818-609687Apartment House Strataentire_homeSpacious Studio Downtown Apartment w/Parking
2074742618-466370Residential/Commercialprivate_roomBed & Breakfast, historic house. Heart of Downtown
1998175718-602672Apartment House Strataentire_homeSpectacular modern 2 bedroom with stunning view !
2076142318-466370Residential/Commercialprivate_roomSummer B&B. Vancouver Downtown Best location!
2074694418-466370Residential/Commercialprivate_roomThe Cozy renovated Loft in Van Dowtown 3bed/1bath
2659690418-466370Residential/Commercialprivate_roomCozy room w/own washroom in Vancouver downtown
2076207818-466370Residential/Commercialprivate_roomB&B. Summer Special - Van Downtowns Heart
2338297418-449035Health Servicesentire_homeSacred Space Heritage Loft in Gastown Downtown
1887920118-586104Apartment House Strataentire_homePacific Rose Retreat - Modern condo DT Vancouver
899083518-549515Computer Servicesprivate_roomLuxury Condo at Metropolitan Towers
681264818-438653Pre-1956 Dwellingentire_homeONE BR TOP FLOOR SUITE IN HOUSE NEAR DOWNTOWN
1577120718-485830Apartment House Strataentire_home1 Bed Den Office in-suite laundry Pool Gym Hot Tub
139729118-606759Apartment House Strataprivate_roomBright bedroom in shared condo
2072694918-466370Residential/Commercialentire_homeYour ideal and cozy Guesthouse Vancouver Downtown
1807948318-611528Apartment House Strataentire_homeStylish 420 Friendly Work Remotely with Parking
1399219418-492336Multiple Dwellingentire_homeCute, cozy 2 Bedroom Garden Suite
580809418-491535Apartment House Strataentire_homeSpectacular View in Yaletown & Park
1519169518-466508Residential/Commercialentire_homeChic Fraser Street Apartment
1719589318-475073Secondary Suite - Permanententire_homeLast Minute Limited Availability 3bd/2bath
1710568518-587595Apartment House Strataentire_homeComfort & Charm, Parking, 15min to Downtown
2106639018-466370Residential/Commercialprivate_roomPromo! Charming private room in Vancouver
2318802518-466370Residential/Commercialprivate_roomBeautiful Private room - Victorian Downtown house
2265428918-608301Duplexprivate_roomVancouver on 12 & Commercial - PRIVATE BATHROOM
2282053818-608301Duplexprivate_roomVANCOUVER HOME - #3 New House - 12 & Commercial

To meaningfully protect our long term rental market from being decimated by Airbnb and other short term accommodation platforms, we must take the following steps:

  1. Introduce licence auto-verification, so, we can nip unlicensed units and licence cheats in the bud
  2. Introduce a tough new bylaw and agreements that hold platforms accountable for the hosts’ actions
  3. Make Airbnb fines lienable, so that the city can place liens against egregious violators who refuse to pay the fines

 

I believe Vancouver should take care of those who take care of our city and our citizens. I dream of a place where those who contribute to our communities are able to afford to live in the city. I’m running for city councillor to see that dream come true. Please help me by donating and volunteering to my campaign.

Only 5% of Vancouver Airbnb listings deactivated

 

City of Vancouver’s short term accommodation bylaw fully came into force today. There was much talk of “2,000” Airbnb units being deactivated. But did it really happen?

 

It appears that Airbnb has deactivated approximately 5% of the listings that were active on August 31.

 

I took a random sample 832 of City of Vancouver hosts on Airbnb August 31 between 4pm and 6pm Pacific Time.

 

218 out of the 832 (27%) of them were without licences and facing deactivation. I ran a follow up today between 1pm and 2pm. Here’s what I found

 

Table1: What happened to the listings without licenses on Aug 31

New State Number Percentage
Deactivated 45 21%
Converted 30+ Days 163 75%
Licence obtained last minute 10 5%
Total 218 100%

 

That means approximately 5% of Airbnb listings that were active in my sample have been delisted. If we go by Jens von Bergmann’s figure of 4,700 total listings1)https://doodles.mountainmath.ca/blog/2018/08/21/airbnb-and-str-licences/, that works out to about 250 listings being taken off the platform.

 

But the number of people who are cheating the system far exceed the number of listings yanked from the platform. I’m currently collecting data post-purge, and here’s what I have found with my fresh sample of 1,634 listings collected so far today.

 

Table 2: Summary of problems with licences

 

Status Count Percentage
Licence used multiple times 459 28%
“Exempt” but less than 30 nights 73 4%
Obviously fake 17 1%
Not found in CoV database 152 9%
Valid 933 57%
Total 1634 100%

 

459  listings, or 28%, share a licence with one or more other listings. This means that Airbnb and City have done nothing to crackdown on commercial operators.

 

Licences for 152, or 9%, did not appear in the City of Vancouver business license database.

 

73 out of the  832 listings in my sample, or 4%, claimed to be “Exempt” even though they were for less than 30 days. Further 17 listings, or 1%, had obviously fake license numbers such as 00-0000. This means 11% of the listings are either fake or are claiming to be exempt when they probably aren’t.

 

In summary, the “great purge” did not happen. Even amongst the listings with licences, 43% are problematic.

 

A lot of these problems can be solved by introducing license auto-verification2)https://rezel.ca/2018/06/automated-short-term-rental-accommodation-licence-integrity-checking-system-astralics/.

Data

I’m happy to share my SQL database if anyone wants to play around with it. Just get in touch with me.

Bonus

Here’s a nify two-liner to extract City of Vancouver short term rental licences from the Open Data portal Json file.

import json
stral = [f['properties']['LicenceNumber'] for f in json.load(open("/path/to/Politics/business_licences.json"))['features'] if f['properties']["BusinessType"] is not None and 'Short-Term Rental' in f['properties']["BusinessType"]]

References   [ + ]

1. https://doodles.mountainmath.ca/blog/2018/08/21/airbnb-and-str-licences/
2. https://rezel.ca/2018/06/automated-short-term-rental-accommodation-licence-integrity-checking-system-astralics/

Wikiwashing Westbank: Who’s editing developer Ian Gillespie’s Wiki page?

Someone’s been deleting sections of Vancouver developer Ian Gillespie’s Wikipedia page1)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Gillespie_(developer). Gillespie owns Westbank of the “if the Chinese market doesn’t want it, I have no interest in it” fame.

So who’s Wikiwashing Gillespie’s page?

Wikipedia edits leave behind an audit trail. In this case, we know the person who edited Gillespie’s page had the IP address 207.219.254.1322)https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ian_Gillespie_%28developer%29&type=revision&diff=850001074&oldid=846908619.

Let’s go and ask American Registry for Internet Numbers(ARIN)3)https://whois.arin.net/rest/net/NET-207-219-254-128-1/pft?s=207.219.254.132 who owns 207.219.254.132.

A quick Google search tells me that “180 University Hotel Limited Partnership”4)https://opengovca.com/toronto-business/B71-4293651 is the company which operates, wait for it, Westbank’s Shangri-La5)http://westbankcorp.com/shangri-la-toronto in Toronto, which happens to be at, 180 University Avenue.

Someone at Westbank’s Shangri-La is Wikiwashing Ian Gillespie’s page.

References   [ + ]

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Gillespie_(developer)
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ian_Gillespie_%28developer%29&type=revision&diff=850001074&oldid=846908619
3. https://whois.arin.net/rest/net/NET-207-219-254-128-1/pft?s=207.219.254.132
4. https://opengovca.com/toronto-business/B71-4293651
5. http://westbankcorp.com/shangri-la-toronto

Automated Short Term Rental Accommodation Licence Integrity Checking System (ASTRALICS)

Problem

City of Vancouver recently regulated Airbnb and other short term rentals. Hosts are required to obtain a licence from the city and platforms are required to deactivate hosts without a valid licence. Recent news reports indicate that hosts have been getting away with fake numbers as there’s currently no mechanism for platforms to validate licence number.

Solution

Automated Short Term Rental Accommodation Licence Integrity Checking System (ASTRALICS ) is a proposed application programming interface (API) intended for City of Vancouver to publish, which Airbnb can use to validate licence numbers.

  1. Upon a host entering the licence number, Airbnb sends licence number, street number, street name, and unit number (in the case of strata units) to ASTRALICS.
  2. ASTRALICS checks the City of Vancouver licence database to see if an entry matching the request data exists in the system.
  3. If an entry is found, ASTRALICS responds with “valid”. Airbnb will accept the licence number
  4. If an entry is not found, ASTRALICS responds with “invalid”. Airbnb will reject the licence number.

Implementation

I have created a fully functional ASTRALICS prototype as 65-line Azure function in Java. It can be easily ported to other languages.

Demonstration

I have created an example licence database as follows:

 

LICENCENUMBER STREETNAME STREETNUMBER UNITNUMBER
555-1000 Robertson Street 2002
555-1001 Gregor Drive 1001 111

If you access ASTRALICS API with a valid licence number, as in the request below, you will get “valid” as the response.

https://astralics.azurewebsites.net/api/validate?licencenumber=555-1001&streetnumber=1001&streetname=Gregor%20Drive&unitnumber=111

If you access ASTRALICS API with a invalid licence, as in the request below, you will get “invalid” as the response.

https://astralics.azurewebsites.net/api/validate?licencenumber=12345&streetnumber=2002&streetname=Robertson%20Street

Source Code

package ca.rezel.astralics;

import java.sql.*;
import java.util.*;
import com.microsoft.azure.serverless.functions.annotation.*;
import com.microsoft.azure.serverless.functions.*;

/**
 * Automated Short Term Rental Accommodation Licence Integrity Checking System (ASTRALICS).
 * Author: Rohana Rezel
 * Licence: MIT Licence
 */

public class Function {
    @FunctionName("validate")
    public HttpResponseMessage<String> hello(
            @HttpTrigger(name = "req", methods = {"get"}, authLevel = AuthorizationLevel.ANONYMOUS) HttpRequestMessage<Optional<String>> request,
            final ExecutionContext context) {
        context.getLogger().info("Java HTTP trigger processed a request.");

        String licenceNumber = request.getQueryParameters().get("licencenumber");
        String unitNumber = request.getQueryParameters().get("unitnumber");
        String streetNumber = request.getQueryParameters().get("streetnumber");
        String streetName = request.getQueryParameters().get("streetname");
        HttpResponseMessage<String> returnValue = request.createResponse(500, "Server error");
        if (licenceNumber==null || streetNumber == null || streetName == null) {
            return request.createResponse(400, "licencenumber, streetnumber and streetname are required");
        } else {
            Connection connection;
            try {
                String url = "jdbc:sqlserver:YOUR_CONNECTION_STRING_HERE";
                connection = DriverManager.getConnection(url);

                String selectSql = "SELECT * from Licence WHERE licenceNumber=? AND streetNumber=? AND streetName=?";
                if (unitNumber != null) {
                    selectSql += " AND unitNumber=?";
                }

                try {
                    PreparedStatement statement = connection.prepareStatement(selectSql);
                    statement.setString(1, licenceNumber);
                    statement.setString(2, streetNumber);
                    statement.setString(3, streetName);
                    if (unitNumber != null) {
                        statement.setString(4, unitNumber);
                    }
                    ResultSet resultSet = statement.executeQuery();
                    if (resultSet.next()) {
                        returnValue = request.createResponse(200, "valid");
                    } else {
                        returnValue = request.createResponse(200, "invalid");
                    }
                    connection.close();
                } catch (Exception e) {
                    e.printStackTrace();
                }
            } catch (Exception e) {
                e.printStackTrace();
            }
        }
        return returnValue;
    }
}

Canada Post Scam

Here’s a new scam. You will get an email from “Canada Post” asking you to download a “notice card” to collect a package that “Canada Post” has been trying to deliver.

Do not click on that link. It’s a zip file containing a .vbs malware scrip.

The script itself is encoded, with the decoding logic built in. I re-wrote the decoding logic in Python to figure out what the script really does, and here’s what I found out.

The script will disable “Security Center” and call another URL and download and execute another piece of malware from a third URL on the domain clueup.in.

The domain clueup.in is registered by an organization called Clueup India in Ahmedabad, India.

I have reported this incident to Canada Anti-fraud Centre with all the information I have and hopefully, they can get that website shutdown to prevent the malware from spreading.

If you have already clicked through to the link, shutdown your device immediately, and you might need to talk to someone who knows how to properly clean up malware.