It appears that a City of Richmond fine and warning hasn’t stopped a “hotel” in west Richmond from opening its doors for business, illegally.
The Richmond News reported last August on a house at 7508 Railway Ave. that had been operating as a family hotel without a license. It later received a $2,000 fine from the city and was ordered to close.
However, the house, now named “Richmond 6 or 1 Bedroom House,” has been back on the travel website Booking.com, since January.
It appears to be very active — it is fully booked from now until Sunday, Feb. 24 and is rated as “one of our best sellers in Richmond” by the website.
“I accidentally found it on Booking.com...I’m here to tell you that it is more active and more professional now,” wrote a concerned resident to the News.
The house is offered as one house with five bedrooms and 10 beds, and accommodates a maximum of 17 guests per night.
The price ranges from $270 to $388 per night depending on the number of guests. Despite the house not being licensed by the city, it charges 25 per cent “taxes and charges” on top of the room rates.
“Why is the city unable to stop them?” asked the resident.
Ted Townsend, spokesperson for the City of Richmond, responded saying the case with this house “is an ongoing file for us.”
“We have a court date in March with the individual accused of running the short-term rental. In the interim, we are continuing to monitor and our investigation is ongoing,” said Townsend.
Townsend noted that, the advertisement on Booking.com alone does not constitute an offence, and the city asks residents to help them gather more evidence, “particularly if they have information about more than two people staying at this location.”
“Generally, investigations and ticketing work to bring most offenders in line,” he said.
“As with any underground industry, it would be virtually impossible to eradicate completely, but we believe our bylaws and ongoing enforcement have led to a significant overall reduction in this type of activity.”
Given the limited resources municipal governments have to go after violators, Rohana Rezel, a Vancouver housing advocate, has been vocal about having governments work with platforms such as Airbnb, and hold them accountable to make sure that all listed rentals comply with the city’s bylaws.
Townsend said the city is in talks with Airbnb and other operators “how they can support us,” but he would have to talk to the staff to “find out more on this topic.”
Complaints and concerns can be sent to BylawRequest@Richmond.ca or call 604-276-4345.