As vacancy rates drop in Halifax, officials hope proposed landlord registry can fix that
At the top of Compass Distillers is an apartment.
It's registered with the province as a short-term tourist accommodation, and it's popular - so busy in fact, there are guests staying inside right now.
“We probably have one or two vacant nights a month from May through October,” said Ezra Edelstein of Compass Distillers.
The owners of Compass built the apartment specifically for short-term rentals and list it on sites like Airbnb as part of a package deal, with a tour and tasting at the distillery.
“It is problematic when you have people that start renting 25 apartments and just renting them out on Airbnb,” said Edelstein.
In areas like the south end near Dalhousie, and into the Hydrostone, finding a place for rent is becoming more difficult.
In the last year, the vacancy rate in Halifax fell to 1.6 per cent, the lowest rate in nearly 20 years.
At the same time, the average rent is increasing and is now just over $1,000 a month.
“You look at a lot of the luxury apartments that are downtown that are starting to creep up into the north end and now looking at even purchasing a house, that is becoming more difficult because of one they're going so fast and the cost just to get into it,” said Halifax Regional Coun. Lindell Smith.
Smith says he fears Halifax is headed to the same housing shortage as Vancouver.
“As time went, things were built and the downtown got more expensive and then the outskirts got more expensive,” said Smith. “Now you can hardly find a place to live.”
Earlier this week, Halifax Regional Council got one step closer to a registry of every rental property in the area.
Officials say the registry could have the side benefit of opening up more rental spots as well.
“If we want to have more rentals that are scattered more throughout the city, I think we'd be more comfortable with that if we had a certain degree of control over them, how they're operated, and know that we can respond quickly when they're falling outside of standard,” said Matt Covey, fire prevention division chief with the Halifax Regional Fire Service.
Council should hear recommendations on the report by the end of the year.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.