RDOS denies vacation permit for reported Osoyoos problem home operating as Airbnb

'Nightmare' Airbnb denied

A rural Osoyoos property neighbours described as "a nightmare" has been denied a permit to operate Airbnb-style vacation rentals, which marks the first time the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board has denied such a request. 

The property, located on 37th Street just beyond the Town of Osoyoos border line, operated as an Airbnb throughout the summer of 2019 without an official temporary use permit, drawing ire from neighbours and complaints of excessive noise and disrespect of property. 

At Thursday's board meeting, the board heard an appeal from property manager John Redenbach, who downplayed neighbour concerns about last year — "We had a couple problems, but nothing serious," — while also assuring the board that this year they have vetted all guests.

"I know the caliber of clients coming in, they’re good people. They’re not here to cause problems. This property is expensive to stay at, and that of itself gets a lot of nonsense out of your customers," Redenbach said. "They’re driving Lexuses and BMWs, they are good people, they are here to put money into the community.” 

Redenbach said he manages about 20 properties, and lives in Osoyoos. One of the concerns raised by neighbours was that there was no on-site owner or manager, but Redenbach said he visits often, and cited his average of 4.7 or 4.8 stars on Airbnb reviews. 

Board chair Karla Kozakevich said that was not the issue at hand. 

"I don’t doubt the reviews … the concern for the board of directors are the letters the have come in from your neighbours, and there have been quite a few,” Kozakevich said.

Redenbach said there has been "no evidence" of bad activity at the site, and no official complaints. But Area A director corrected that statement. 

“In spite of what the manager is saying that there haven’t been any legitimate complaints, there has been, I know of at least two that came to the regional district, and that's why this actually has an application before us," Mark Pendergraft said. 

Despite an RDOS staff recommendation to grant the temporary use permit, Pendergraft made a motion to deny it.

Osoyoos mayor Sue McKortoff was completely in agreement, citing complaints she herself has received about the property, including noise and cleanliness concerns.

"I’m just sorry that when this house was on the market that it didn’t sell, or even consider renting,” McKortoff said. “We have a lot of need for families to rent, this would have been a perfect opportunity for a family with children to come and rent." 

The majority of the board agreed, and the application was denied, the first time the RDOS has voted to reject a vacation rental permit. 

Redenbach told Castanet after the meeting he found the decision "disappointing" and said he thought it was political. 

The property will be expected to cease all vacation rental use immediately, regardless of having a fully-booked summer, or face follow-up action with bylaw and ticketing. They will be eligible to reapply for the permit in one year. 

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