Illegal Airbnb hostel operator’s human rights complaint dismissed

Alyse Kotyk, CTV News Vancouver

Published Wednesday, July 3, 2019 1:24PM PDT

Last Updated Wednesday, July 3, 2019 1:33PM PDT

A North Vancouver townhouse owner whose strata tried to shut down her 15-bed Airbnb rental has had a human rights complaint denied.

Emily Yu filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging her strata violated her rights when it told her she was breaking their bylaw by running a short term rental out of her home.

In her complaint, Yu said the strata’s demand discriminated against her disability, which she said requires her to rent out her unit for income. 

However, tribunal member Devyn Cousineau cited a previous Supreme Court decision on the same dispute that said there was not enough evidence of a mental disability. 

“There is a one-paragraph letter from what appears to be a general practitioner, which states that she has long-term post-concussion issues and ongoing disability. This is simply, not enough, in my view,” the Supreme Court judge’s decision from 2018 says.

Cousineau’s decision released on June 26 said the B.C. Human Rights Code allows the tribunal to dismiss a complaint that “has been appropriately dealt with in another proceeding.” She pointed out that this was not the first time Yu and her strata had filed formal complaints against each other.

In 2017, following an application from her strata, Yu was ordered by the Civil Resolution Tribunal to shut down her rental, known as the “Oasis Hostel” operating out of her townhouse on 13th Avenue near Chesterfield Avenue.

“The owner used (the unit) as an ‘Airbnb’ unit since at least May 2016, whereby she rented out as many as 15 beds and (had) up to 20 short-term boarders at any one time,” the CRT decision says. 

“The Airbnb use is not disputed and is supported by various witness statements and documentary evidence, including ‘Craigslist’ ads provided to the tribunal, with the owner apparently charging between $50 and $102 per night for each bed.” 

Background information in the CRT decision also noted that Yu never had a business licence with the City of North Vancouver and that the city had ordered her to stop running the Airbnb on multiple occasions as it went against its bylaws. 

As a result of the CRT’s decision, Yu was fined $4,600 for running the Airbnb. That’s when the matter came before the Supreme Court, when Yu tried to appeal CRT’s decision. However, in 2018, she lost. 

In the case of the recent human rights complaint, Cousineau felt Yu’s issue had already been adequately dealt with by CRT and the Supreme Court and could not “support the re-litigation of the same issue.”  

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