There are more than 90 short-term vacation rentals listed in the City of White Rock, yet the city has only issued 21 business licenses. (AirDNA.co image)

There are more than 90 short-term vacation rentals listed in the City of White Rock, yet the city has only issued 21 business licenses. (AirDNA.co image)

‘Illegal hotels’ operating in City of White Rock: councillor

Anthony Manning concerned some homeowners are operating unlicensed B&B-style rentals

Unlicensed vacation rentals in the City of White Rock is an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away, but of particular concern to at least one city councillor are homes that seemingly operate as illegal bed-and-breakfasts.

“You’re not talking short-term rental here, you’re talking an illegal hotel,” Coun. Anthony Manning told Peace Arch News Tuesday. “Some of them are advertising five, six rooms available.”

Prior to meeting with PAN, Manning said he counted 92 vacation rentals listed in the city, which is similar to what PAN counted last April.

In contrast, the city has issued 21 business licences for short-term rental.

SEE ALSO: B.C. rental crisis goes far beyond impact of short-term rentals, say experts

White Rock resident Christian Lane, who had an unsuccessful bid for council last civic election, has raised the issue of unlicensed AirBnB’s multiple times to PAN and on social media.

On Twitter earlier this month, Lane highlighted an example of an AirBnB listing that contradicts city bylaw.

“Say hello to Anne,” Lane tweeted, while linking to an AirBnB listing. “Anne owns a home in White Rock. Anne also has 4 AirBnB listings for her home. Anne doesn’t actually live in her home. Anne is in violation of (White Rock) bylaws. Don’t be like Anne.”

Aside from being lost revenue for the city, unlicensed rentals remove potential suites or homes from the city’s already stressed rental market. Unlicensed properties also have no city oversight into safety features such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers or an adequate number of exits in case of an emergency, Manning said.

Bylaw enforcement of unlicensed vacation rentals has proved to be a challenge.

“Trying to keep on top of it is like a game of whack-a-mole,” Manning said, adding that when the city shuts down one AirBnB, another seems to become available.

He said bylaw enforcement is complaint driven, however officers search vacation rental websites for unlicensed rentals. Manning noted that bylaw does this job on top of other responsibilities.

MAP: Call issued for focus on unlicensed vacation rentals in White Rock

“These are the same folks that are down on the promenade checking on dog licences and people picking up after their dogs. They’re also going to construction sites and making sure the permitting processes are being followed.”

Fines for unlicensed short-term rentals range from $500 for first offence to $2,000 for third offence.

Although Manning said he doesn’t support an outright ban of AirBnB in the city, he said “it’s certainly tempting” to consider it.

Noting that White Rock is a tourist-based community with only one hotel, Manning expressed concern that banning vacation-rentals from operating in the city would just drive the market further underground.

“For those who follow the rules, it’s an extra income stream for them. If they’re following the bylaw, they’re licensed, they have all the safety guidelines being follow – why should we be depriving someone of that income stream, because they probably need it.”

He pointed to efforts in Barcelona, which has the resources to go after AirBnB. Last year, Barcelona told the city to remove 2,577 listings it found to be operating without a licence. If AirBnB decided to not comply, the city threatened to take the company to court.

During the 2018 Civic campaign, Manning said there were a surprising number of homes throughout the city that appeared to be vacant.

According to data from Statistics Canada, there were 851 vacant homes in the City of White Rock in 2016. The total number of dwellings was 10,856.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole speaks during a virtual South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce town hall on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
O’Toole says South Surrey, White Rock face ‘acute’ challenges during pandemic

Federal Conservative leader speaks at local chamber town hall

A sign encouraging COVID-19 safety steps, with the Bayside rugby clubhouse – located adjacent to Semiahmoo Secondary and the South Surrey track – in background; Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey sees 2,400 new COVID-19 cases in February

This is the lowest monthly increase since last fall

Liberty roses – created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert – will be planted in White Rock later this month. (Contributed photo)
‘Liberty Rose’ to be planted along Johnston Road and at White Rock City Hall

Poppy-like rose created by acclaimed rose breeder Brad Jalbert

South Surrey’s Kirk Arsenault has started a new company, Str8laced, that sells cleat wraps that aim to keep athletes’ shoes from coming untied during games and practices. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey sports equipment entrepreneur tying up loose ends before Alberta move

Str8laced wraps keep laces from coming loose in the middle of play, says Kirk Arsenault

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Students, volunteers remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

Day-long project a collaboration between city, Lower Mainland Green Team

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels after found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired B.C. teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement significantly expands Indigenous role in Lower Mainland policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read