City of North Van sues to shut down Airbnb townhouse hostel

North Shore News

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The City of North Vancouver is going to court to shut down an illegal 14-bed hostel operating out of a three-bedroom townhouse in Central Lonsdale.

Under the city’s zoning bylaw, “accommodation of the transient public” is not a permitted use, the petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday states, but Emily Yu has, since 2016, been advertising her home at 230 West 13th St. as the “Oasis Hostel” and offering up to 14 beds for rent.

Maeve Chamberlaine and Erin Wasney say they and their neighbours are exasperated after two years trying to shut down an 15-bed hostel within their townhouse complex. photo Kevin Hill, North Shore News

“The use of the townhouse as a hostel disturbs the neighbours. The noise, traffic and transience of the hostel guests is inconsistent with the residential nature of the neighbourhood containing the townhouse,” the petition states. “The city has demanded that the respondent cease the hostel use of the townhouse but the respondent has not complied.”

In its petition, the city is asking the court for an injunction ordering Yu to immediately cease advertising and to cease taking bookings from guests intending to stay at the townhouse and stop the use of the home as a hostel within two weeks.

In addition to the injunction, the city is asking the court to declare that Yu is in contravention of the city’s zoning bylaw by using her condo unit for short-term guest accommodation and the city’s fire bylaw for failing to keep the corridors and exits free from obstruction.

The petition also seeks an order requiring Yu to remove all the large furniture from her unit’s hallways and landings.

The city included affidavits from two of Yu’s current neighbours in its court filings.

In his affidavit, Dan Goldberg estimated there are 10 to 20 people staying in his neighbour’s townhouse most nights, with peak occupancy in the summer.

“Since the summer of 2016, I have personally observed over a hundred different people come and go from the Yu townhouse at all hours of the day, often carrying backpacks or suitcases.”

A screengrab from a since removed Airbnb posting shows an ad for a room in Central Lonsdale. Emily Yu has been ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines to her strata and shut down her illegal hostel – screengrab airbnb.com

“The Yu townhouse is far too small to house so many people. I am concerned that this inappropriate use increases the risk associated with fire, bed bugs and property damage in the (townhouse complex),” Goldberg wrote.

Shouting, arguments and boisterous behaviour from outside the home are causing repeated sleep disturbances, he added.

“The hostel is weighing heavily on my quality of life and costing us sleep to the point that I feel impaired during the day,” Goldberg wrote.

Another neighbour, Erin Wasney, also took issue with the impact the guests are having.

“I often see guests returning to the Yu townhouse who are intoxicated or get very intoxicated on the patio. Guests regularly smoke weed on the patio and talk about drug use,” she said.

“The number of strangers walking through the courtyard … to access the Yu townhouse also makes me uncomfortable and reluctant to have my children play in the backyard.”

On Thursday, Yu said she had not yet been served with the legal documents but added that she was not worried.

“I don’t believe I violated the zoning bylaw. The city came with the fire department to check my property in May. They are satisfied with the property. They have not given me any comment about violating any fire violations,” she said.

Yu said she believes the zoning bylaw allows her to run a hostel if she also lives at the same address, which she does.

Yu said she will not hire a lawyer and will, instead, represent herself in court after she is served with court papers.

The city’s request for a court injunction is the latest in an ongoing legal battle between Yu, the city and her townhouse strata council.

Previously Yu was ordered by the Civil Resolution Tribunal to shut down after she was found to be violating the strata’s bylaws against short-term rentals.

After news about the hostel went public last month, Airbnb removed Yu’s listing while they conducted an internal investigation.