Short-term rentals making Halifax a tougher place to live
HALIFAX -- It's becoming increasingly difficult to find a place to rent in the Halifax area.
Prices are creeping up and at least one researcher believes the short-term housing market – created by companies such as Airbnb -- is one of the reasons.
"In my particular case, the main issue is, I simply don't have enough money to live," said Aron Spidle.
After 13 years in his Halifax apartment, Spidle needs a new place to live, but the hunt for a new apartment is challenging.
"The building was sold in December to an investment company and they're renovating the units and they're putting the rent up and I've received a notice that my utilities will be taken out of my rent in the spring," he says.
With a vacancy rate of 1.6 per cent, many Haligonians are finding it a challenge, including Amy Thorne, who has to be out of her current apartment in a matter of weeks.
"With the rents being so high, I just thought I would maybe buy something because mortgages seem to be half the cost of rent," Thorne said. "Unfortunately, my sale fell through. In the meantime my place was rented."
David Wachsmuth is a researcher with McGill University in Montreal.
He says there's an increasing amount of public controversy about whether short-term rental platforms like Airbnb are responsible for unaffordable housing.
"We looked at the entire state of the short-term market over the last four or five years and what we found is at the moment, there are more than 700 housing units, particularly in the peninsula in downtown Halifax, which have been converted to entirely full-time short-term rentals and therefore no longer available for residents to be living in," Wachsmuth said.
Wachsmuth says this is having a serious impact on the availability and affordability of rental housing.
"The evidence is very clear that short-term rentals are one of the reasons why vacancy rates are as low as they are," Wachsmuth said.
The Halifax Regional Municipality is conducting a survey to get feedback from residents on short-term rentals, while the Nova Scotia government says it's modernizing the rules around short-term rentals and expects new regulations to be in place for the 2020 tourist season.