Vancouver Airbnb host pays $6K in business licence fines

Patrick Baldwin is pictured outside the law courts in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Patrick Baldwin is pictured outside the law courts in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

A Vancouver Airbnb host who criticized the city for a tenfold increase in the price of short-term rental licences has pleaded guilty to three bylaw tickets for not holding a short-term rental business licence and has paid $6,000 in fines.

Patrick Baldwin is one of thousands of property owners in Vancouver who offer rentals in their homes on platforms such as Airbnb under strict city rules, including the need for a licence for rentals less than 30 consecutive days.

In mid-September, city councillors in Vancouver voted to increase the licence cost for short-term rentals from $109 to $1,000.

Court documents show that on Sept. 29, Oct. 1 and Oct. 22, the city claimed to have "reasonable grounds to believe" Baldwin and his wife were offering short-term rentals — those less than 30 consecutive days — without an appropriate business licence.

After not paying the tickets, the couple was issued a court summons in April.

On May 28, the charges against his wife were dropped, but he pleaded guilty and paid the $6,000 — $2,000 for each ticket — on the same day, according to the provincial court registry.

Baldwin has not responded to two inquires over the matter from CBC News in the past two weeks.

Their current listing on Airbnb is being offered for stays 30 days or longer at their primary residence, meaning the couple does not require a short-term rental business licence.

Resident income v. resident housing

Cities across B.C. are weighing short-term rentals, which provide property owners with income and bolster local economies, against diminishing long-term housing for residents struggling with affordability.

Under Vancouver's short-term rental bylaws, which have been in place since 2018, fines imposed for infractions can range from $250 to $10,000.

On May 1, new provincial legislation came into effect to limit short-term rentals to a property owner's principal residence in many communities. The legislation applies to properties rented for fewer than 90 consecutive days.

Baldwin previously said that since speaking out last September, he's been made a scapegoat over the issue on social media sites such as X, formerly Twitter.

He said people renting a suite within their primary residence were not part of the problem, but so-called Airbnb investors were.

There are currently 4,5261 active short-term listings in the city, according to the City of Vancouver website.