(Updated) 'It looks like a hotel': ALR mega mansion found for rent on travel websites

One more mega home that operated as a hotel on Richmond’s agricultural land is getting attention after a council meeting presentation last week. Located on Steveston Highway near No. 3 Road, the “Richmond Fancy Guesthouse” boasts rooms with “individual climate control, an in-room safe, pay TV, a wardrobe and high ceiling for a comfortable stay in Richmond. Bedroom facilities include pillow-top mattresses, down comforters and down pillows,” according to a post on booked.net.

Richmond resident Judie Schneider was at last Monday’s council meeting to deliver a petition to limit home sizes on the city’s ALR with fellow residents and activists, Kelly Greene and Jack Trovato, when she presented the guesthouse to council. Since that meeting, the city has confirmed with the Richmond News that the property is no longer operating as a hotel and that the short term rental was posted by a tenant.

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The operator of the rental and the owner of the property were both fined and the homeowner has since evicted the tenant. However, the homeowner was unable to have the listing removed from the travel websites as the owner was not the one who posted the listing. The owner is now applying for a bed and breakfast license, even though the property has an advertised secondary rental suite.

Schneider said she first saw the guesthouse posted on a Facebook community group.

“I saw it, and right away I thought ‘what’s going on with this house,’” Schneider told the Richmond News. “It doesn’t look like a house. It looks like a hotel.”

Schneider also said that while the house does have a building permit and was allowed to be that size, its operation as a hotel on farmland was problematic.“What’s happening is people are justifying the need for these homes by saying that they’re large families,” Schneider said.

“You couldn’t possibly need that many family members working the land or that many farm workers hired and living with you to farm that small tract of land. And yet, the city gave them the permit.”

According to city bylaws, short term rentals are permissible with a bed and breakfast license. To qualify, the rental must be a single-family home, the principal residence of the homeowner, 500 metres away from existing bed and breakfasts and to not have more than three rooms rented at a time, with a maximum of two guests per room. Bed and breakfasts are not permitted in homes that have secondary suites or suites with separate cooking facilities.

“These houses that are being illegally run as hotels and Airbnbs without getting their license are taking away the rental stock and we’re having a housing crisis right now,” she said.

“I would like these to be an example to city council that this is exactly why we cannot have these large homes allowed because this is what they turn into.”

Recently, the city underwent its own public consultation process to review options to further limit home sizes on the ALR. The city is in the process of compiling that feedback for review.
  

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