16-year-old boy tries to obtain short-term rental license

City inspector: ‘Honestly, we were very curious how a minor would now run a short-term rental’

The city is considering raising the age limit for applicants interested in operating short-term rental businesses in Vancouver after a 16-year-old boy tried to get a permit for his family’s street home.

Koji Miyaji, the city’s deputy chief licensing inspector, told a panel of three city councilors that the boy’s application was the first of its kind since the city issued a 2018 ordinance to regulate the industry popularized by Airbnb and others. online rental platforms.

“Honestly, we were very curious to talk about how a minor is now going to run a short-term rental business in that particular residence,” Mijayi told the panel during a June 15 review of the boy’s application for a laneway house on West 32nd Avenue.

Miyaji said the city’s short-term rental ordinance never considered an age restriction, but noted that Airbnb and VRBO both require hosts to be at least 18 to operate on their sites. The municipality is now considering setting the minimum age at 18 years.

“It’s very much discussed at the moment,” he said.

primary residence

Vancouver is amazing chose not to name the boy or his mother to protect the boy’s privacy, although the boy did appear at the hearing via video link, which is a public affair.

The city’s case against the boy, as set forth by Miyaji and city prosecutor Robert LeBlanc, was that he was unable to prove that the laneway was his primary residence, which is a requirement to obtain a short-term rental permit.

An inspection of the residence found no food in the refrigerator or cupboards and virtually no personal belongings, said Miyaji, who described the avenue house as a sanitized unit.

The city was also concerned that the boy’s mother had previously run a short-term rental business out of the laneway house and continued to do so after she canceled her license in March — the same month her son later applied for a license.

“There was a flip-flop essentially of how it was operated, who was operating it on the same property and under the same family,” Miyaji said, noting at one point in the investigation that the boy’s mother had allegedly revealed that she and her children all lived in the main house on the property.

“We Just Didn’t Believe It” [the boy] lived there.”

Private school

Short-term rental licenses are automatically issued until the city receives a complaint or something about the application initiates an investigation and inspection of a property.

The boy, who is a student at a private school in Vancouver, told the panel that he lived in the laneway in preparation for his own life at university. He also said counselors and caregivers recommended that he live in the alleyway because his obsessive-compulsive disorder was disrupting the family.

“When I’m Not There” [at the laneway house]”I often stayed with my aunt or with my grandparents, or our nanny stayed here for the rest of the time,” the boy said.

“When we are away, I often rent out the house, because we are away for two to three weeks. So it’s purely for profit to my mother, as she owns the house.”

The boy later clarified that the money he earned from short-term rentals would be used to fund college for him and his two siblings.

‘I am 16 years old’

count. Michael Wiebe asked the boy what evidence he had that the Laneway House was his primary residence, and Miyaji previously said how the boy’s age prevented him from obtaining legal documents with the Laneway House address.

“I am 16 years old,” he said. “I’m not really trained in this. I don’t know how to provide the proof. I’m just trying to rent it out. I stay here four to five times a week and my mother is ultimately the owner of the property, so I don’t know.”

count. Rebecca Bligh cited age as one of her reasons for not approving the boy’s application.

“It’s fair to say that the discrepancy around age doesn’t align,” Bligh said. “Certainly for me, it gives us pause to suggest that we should resolve that discrepancy within our statutes to avoid these situations.”

Bligh added: “It wouldn’t be the right decision to issue a short-term rental license based on that, because someone else would have to actually manage the Airbnb or the short-term rental, based entirely on age.”

‘Manipulation of circumstances’

In his closing remarks, LeBlanc advised the panel not to grant the boy a license.

“With all due respect, I think there’s been a bit of a manipulation of circumstances here,” LeBlanc said.

“I’m not saying anything malicious was done…I appreciate the fact that there may be some benefit to it” [the boy] acclimatize himself – and his particular condition – so that he can then attend university. But that doesn’t make it a primary residence.”

LeBlanc added: “I certainly encourage him to keep doing that if it’s beneficial to his health, but it doesn’t give him or his mother the right to consider that his primary residence and then rent it out for short-term purposes and give the city a deprive permanent housing stock.”

The city began regulating short-term rentals in April 2018.

Under the regulation, a person who provides temporary housing in a residence other than a bed and breakfast or hotel is considered a short-term rental operator and must obtain a business license.

The housing must be provided in the operator’s primary residence. The ordinance says that an operator can rent his entire house, or a room in that house, for less than 30 consecutive days at a time.

The intent of the ordinance was to regulate the industry while encouraging homeowners to put their suites on the rental market.

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