October 2nd, 2019

Strong regulation needed for short-term rentals as housing costs increase

HALIFAX - The NDP is tabling legislation to immediately regulate short-term rentals, in response to concerns about their impact on the housing market and neighbourhoods. The Liberal government passed legislation last spring to regulate short-term rentals, but have been slow to finalize regulations.

“People are struggling to find a home. Hundreds of units that at one time were long-term rentals are now showing up on short-term rental sites,” said Lisa Roberts, NDP Housing spokesperson. “It’s not just a room here or there. We’re talking about neighbourhoods that used to have a vibrant mix of renters and homeowners now being peppered with ghost hotels.”

The NDP legislation focuses on those renting spaces that are not their primary residence and are renting more than 100 nights a year. The bill would establish fees for short-term rental platforms and empower the province and municipalities to restrict short-term rentals further if the vacancy rate in a given community is too low. The vacancy rate in HRM is currently 1.6 per cent.

“If Airbnb were buying up buildings and turning them into hotels, we’d have something to say about that. What they are doing isn’t very different. We can limit their impact on our rental market and make sure they contribute to revenues,” said Roberts.

The bill would penalize platforms for allowing unregistered listings on its site. New Democrats have been offering solutions to the crisis in rental increases, including the introduction of rent controls and the need to build more affordable housing.