Seattle approves tax on Airbnb, short-term rental operators

A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco California U.S

A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco California U.S

The city of Vancouver passed new rules on Tuesday banning homeowners from renting out certain kinds of property on short-term rental websites like Airbnb, as part of an attempt to deal with a housing shortage that has led to soaring rents.

The council was also set to consider a separate but related package of new regulations for short-term rentals today, but sent that back to committee for more discussion later this year. It has become a hotly contested issue for local residents, who have blamed foreign buyers and short-term rentals, among other issues, for making housing unaffordable.

The newly approved tax, meanwhile, might never be implemented.

Airbnb said in a statement that it would continue to operate in Vancouver and supports the city's efforts to "recognize and regulate home sharing".

Anyone who lists their property as a short-term rental on websites such as Airbnb and Expedia will now have to buy a $49 annual license, which must be posted on their online listing.

The city says about 6,000 short-term rentals are in operation while the vacancy rate for long-term renters is extremely low at less than one per cent.