Concerns raised over Airbnb limiting long-term rentals in Halifax
Some cities like Halifax are finding out that the Airbnb trend is having an impact on residents who are looking for a place to live.
The company that allows people to list their apartments, condos, and homes for short-term rentals has become the subject of similar discussions in other Canadian cities.
In Charlottetown, these short-term rentals are becoming big business for local operators, and the provincial government is stepping in so that Airbnb operators will be provincially licensed.
And there is some discussion about whether something similar should happen in Halifax.
A few days ago, Emily Miller tweeted out “Want an apartment in the north end? Too bad, they're all Airbnb properties now.”
Want an apartment in the North End? Too bad, they're all Airbnb properties now. pic.twitter.com/Nm72u3DYxI— Emily Miller (@emilymillerHFX) August 3, 2018
“I was just shocked, because I do eventually want to move in the next year or so, and half of the properties available would have been ideal locations for me, but now are Airbnb,” Miller said.
Waye Mason, Halifax’s deputy mayor, responded to Miller’s tweet.
He said that the city met with Airbnb representatives in June to talk about possible solutions, which could include limiting the number of units in a building that can be listed on Airbnb at one time.
Mason wrote on Twitter that “renting a room or one unit is one thing, but a 3-to-12 unit building all Airbnb is a hotel.”
Maybe limit the number of airbnbs per building, that kind of thing. Renting a room or 1 unit is one thing, havign a 3-12 unit building all airbnb is a hotel. Keep in mind boarding houses are allowed, have been since the 1900s. So drawing those distinctions.— Waye Mason (@WayeMason) August 4, 2018
When contacted by CTV Atlantic, Airbnb said that there are certainly some listings on their site which might be taking away from a long-term rental market, but they say that percentage is very low.
Alex Dagg, a spokesperson for Airbnb Canada said in an e-mail that the majority of Halifax listings are “regular people that are sharing their homes to help make ends meet,” although they didn't provide specific numbers.
“Airbnb welcomes debate about our role in Halifax – in face we believe that municipalities should regulate our industry,” Dagg wrote.
Airbnb also said the company wants to work with Halifax and other municipalities to find regulations that work for each individual market.
For instance, Toronto has imposed a “night cap” which limits the amount of time that someone can rent out their space on Airbnb.
Vancouver will need listings to be licensed as of the end of August, and Airbnbis working with that city to make that happen.
Miller thinks both of those ideas could work here.
“Just to have an overview of what is taken up in the area, with Airbnb in general would be really helpful,” she said. “But it’s kind of like the Wild West in the housing market right now in Halifax, and yeah, some regulations are definitely needed.”
The discussion has started here, and across Canada, and will continue for a while.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.