Vancouver strata lawyer preparing class action lawsuit against Airbnb

Vancouver strata lawyer preparing class action lawsuit against Airbnb

A Vancouver strata lawyer says she is preparing a class action lawsuit against Airbnb, alleging the company is "profiting from the unauthorized use of other people's property."

Recently, Polina Furtula — who is on the strata council of her Yaletown condo tower — sent demand letters to Airbnb about unauthorized listings in her building. Airbnb notified the hosts of the complaints and shortly afterwards, the hosts decided to remove their listings.

While Furtula says stratas do have the legal right to take action against those who contravene their bylaws, it's not always the easiest solution.

"It's expensive. It's ineffective to try to catch the owners and go after the owners themselves," said Furtula.

She says platforms like Airbnb that allow rentals to be posted, should be held responsible for unauthorized units.

"I would like for them [the city] to regulate Airbnb and similar providers, so at least that they require proof that this rental — whatever rental is listed on their website — is authorized."

Airbnb responds

Airbnb spokesperson Lindsey Scully — who is in Vancouver for a public hearing on short term rental regulations — said hosts are responsible for complying with local rules and regulations.

 "When hosts sign up on Airbnb, they must certify they will comply with local rules and regulations before listing their space," said a statement from Scully.

"Airbnb is committed to working hand-in-hand with governments and stakeholders, so that we can ensure a healthy home-sharing community."

Furtula plans to share her thoughts on Airbnb at a a public hearing at Vancouver City Hall Tuesday night.