Tag Archives: airbnb

Airbnb has caused my rent to go up by $750. I want Airbnb to pay up.

A UCLA study has found that “that a 1% increase in Airbnb listings leads to a 0.018% increase in rents.”. Short term rentals have been illegal in Vancouver until April 18, 2018, but Airbnb listings have grown by over 270% between 2013 and 2018. Applying the UCLA model, Airbnb has lead to a 4.87% rent increase in Vancouver. That works out to $3,397.17, or, more than $750 extra annually for me. It’s time for Airbnb to compensate renters of Vancouver.

The following is my demand letter to Airbnb.

Airbnb, Inc.,
888 Brannan Street,
4th Floor, San Francisco,
CA 94103,
United States

April 28, 2018

Dear Sir or Madam,

Demand Letter

Facts

1. Between Jan 1, 2013 (or earlier) and April 18, 2018, Airbnb has operated or caused to operate illegal short term rentals in the City of Vancouver in violation of City of Vancouver Zoning & Development Bylaw 3575 as in force in that period, specifically:

Section 10.19.4: No person shall use or permit to be used any sleeping unit for a period of less than one month unless such unit forms part of a hotel.

Section 10.21.6: No person shall use or permit to be used any dwelling unit for a period of less than one month unless such unit forms part of a hotel or is used for bed and breakfast accommodation.

2. Based on data provided by Airbnb 1)https://2sqy5r1jf93u30kwzc1smfqt-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/VancouverReport_finalcopy_June-1.pdf and the City of Vancouver 2)http://council.vancouver.ca/documents/pspc7_000.pdf, the number of Airbnb units have increased from 1,800 in 2013 to 6,667 as of March 2018, and increase of 270.39%.

3. A UCLA study has found that “a 1% increase in Airbnb listings leads to a 0.018% increase in rents” 3)https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3006832.

4. Based on the UCLA study, Airbnb is responsible for a 4.87% rent increase.

5. I moved to Vancouver in November 2013. Between then and April 2018, I have paid $69,800 in rent.

6. Thus, applying UCLA model to Vancouver, $3,397.17 of my rents are an increase attributable to Airbnb’s illegal operations in Vancouver.

Demand

Based on the facts above, the I hereby demand the following from you:

Payment of $3,397.17 as restitution for damages suffered as a result of rent increases caused by Airbnb operating, or causing to operate, illegal short term rentals in Vancouver.

Please confirm in writing that you have complied with the above demands within thirty (30) days of this letter.

Please note that if I have to commence legal proceedings in order to require your performance of the above actions, this letter will be tendered in court as evidence of your failure to attempt to resolve this matter. Further, you may be liable for any court costs, attorney fees and damages, including punitive damages.

You might want to contact a lawyer to discuss your legal rights and responsibilities.

Yours sincerely,

Rohana Rezel

References   [ + ]

1. https://2sqy5r1jf93u30kwzc1smfqt-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/VancouverReport_finalcopy_June-1.pdf
2. http://council.vancouver.ca/documents/pspc7_000.pdf
3. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3006832

City of Vancouver doesn’t think Airbnb’s influence on the City Hall is a matter of public interest

Would attempts by a multi-billion dollar corporation to influence city administration be considered a matter of public interest?

City of Vancouver does not think so.

On November 3, 2017, I sent the following freedom of information request to the Freedom of Information office of the City of Vancouver by email:

Copies of all documents, including emails, memos, briefing notes, powerpoint presentations, manuals, and Q&As containing the words “AIRBNB” or “ALEX DAGG” or “SHORT TERM RENTAL” or “PUBLIC HEARING” for the time period Sep 1, 2017 to Oct 30, 2017.

Following correspondence from the FOI office, on November 10, 2017, the FOI request was modified as follows:

Copies of all documents including emails, memos, briefing notes, power point presentations, manuals, and Q&A’s containing the words “AIRBNB” or “ALEX DAGG” or “SHORT TERM RENTAL” or “PUBLIC HEARING” from September 1, 2017 to October 30, 2017 to or from Mayor Robertson, Kaye Krishna, and Janice MacKenzie.

On November 23, 2017, the FOI office assessed a fee of $690 to fulfill the request.

On November 30, 2017, I requested a fee waiver on the grounds that the information sought was a matter of public interest and public safety, as per Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, ss. 75(1), 75(5)(b) and BC Housing (Re), 2014 BCIPC 45:

I wish request a fee waiver on the grounds of public interest .

Has the subject matter been a matter of recent public debate?
Yes. The City of Vancouver’s inaction on the Airbnb file, and the new bylaws, have been widely publicized in the media and debated in forums.

Does the subject of the records relate directly to the environment, public health or safety?
Yes. The public may be at risk of various property crimes and fraud associated with Airbnb.

Would dissemination of the information yield a public benefit by
– disclosing an environmental, public health or safety concern
– contributing meaningfully to the development or understanding of an important environmental, health, or safety issue, or
– assisting public understanding of an important policy, law, program, or service?

Yes. Short term rentals are a public safety concern. Politicians being influenced by large corporations is a public safety concern. Releasing the information requested will contribute contributing meaningfully to the development or understanding of the issue. Given the allegations of City officials’ involvement with Airbnb, it would assist public understanding of an important policy, law, program, or service.

Do the records show how the public body is allocating financial or other resources?
Yes.

Is your primary purpose to disseminate information in a way that could reasonably be expected to benefit the public, or to serve a private interest?
My objective of obtaining this information is to release it on my blog.

Are you able to disseminate the information to the public?
I will be releasing the information I receive on my blog at (https://rezel.ca). I have significant online presence and I’m able to use that to disseminate the information.

On December 1, 2017, the FOI office denied my fee waiver request without any explanation simply stating

Rohana, thank you for your feedback below. I am afraid we are unable to waive the fee based on public interest or public safety. I am going to suggest that you narrow your request in order to avoid a fee.

Today, I wrote to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia asking a for a review of the fee request denial.

[Photo Credit: Paul Krueger]

Letter to Mayor and Council: A shadow has been cast over the proposed Airbnb bylaws

Dear Mayor and Council,

Today, you will be voting on a new set of proposed bylaws, which, if passed, would make Airbnb and other short term rentals legal in Vancouver. The move to legalize short term rentals in the city have been spearheaded by Kaye Krishna, General manager of Development, Buildings, and Licensing.

Ms. Krishna served as a principal at the New York City-based lobbying company HR&A Advisors between October 2013 and her appointment to the City of Vancouver post. It has been recently revealed that during Ms. Krishna’s time with HR&A, Airbnb commissioned HR&A to produce three reports, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, highlighting Airbnb’s positive contributions to New York City.

It has also been recently revealed that sections of Ms. Krishna’s report to the Vancouver City Council bore a striking resemblance to the content found in Airbnb-commissioned reports produced by her former company.

There have also been calls for Ms. Krishna’s resignation over her perceived reluctance to enforce the existing bylaws against short term rentals.

I firmly believe that a shadow has been cast over the proposed bylaws you will be voting on today. For that reason, I urge you to postpone the vote on these bylaws until a thorough investigation is carried out into the issues raised above.

Your decision today will shape the Vancouver of tomorrow. It could be one where individuals, families and communities thrive. It could also end up being a mere playground for the rich where those who work and contribute to the city are no longer able to afford to live in the city.

You are duty bound to get the new bylaws right. Otherwise, you risk hurting the hundreds of thousands of citizens of our city who elected you and to whom you are answerable.

Thank you,
Rohana Rezel