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B.C.’s short-term rental rules not needed in Alberta, according to those trying to fix housing crisis

British Columbia’s provincial government implemented new rules to limit short-term housing at the start of May.

But those working to solve the housing crisis Albertans are facing aren’t convinced such rules are needed here.

The executive director for Vibrant Communities Calgary, a poverty-reduction advocate, says supply for the housing market is the main concern and she has minimal worry about the impact of short-term rentals.

“Where we’re at right now, in terms of short-term rentals on the market in Calgary, is fine and appropriate,” Meaghon Reid said.

Under B.C.’s new rules, a host can still rent out a primary residence as well as one “additional unit, secondary suite or laneway home” on the same property.

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-s-short-term-rental-regulations-include-10k-daily-penalties-for-airbnb-other-platforms-1.6852275

The purpose of the province’s regulations is to open up thousands of potential long-term housing units currently being offered year-round on apps such as Airbnb and Vrbo.

The B.C. government previously calculated 19,000 whole homes were being used exclusively as short-term rentals last year.

“I can tell you there are 19,000 families and individuals that are looking for a place to live … right now that are in competition with people who are looking to operate homes like hotels,” Premier David Eby said.

 

A University of Calgary report says there were more than 1,500 short-term rentals that were permanent listings in July 2023.

https://hdp-ca-prod-app-cgy-engage-files.s3.ca-central-1.amazonaws.com/8716/9766/8907/A_Detailed_Portrait_of_the_Short-Term_Rental_Market_in_Calgary_October_2023.pdf

“These are the units most likely to be returned to the housing market if STRs were banned in Calgary,” the report read.

“This doesn’t have a huge impact on the rental market,” Reid said.

“One home can house a family and every family is really important if they’re facing homelessness or living in a shelter. With that said, the short-term rentals, in a small amount, do have their place in the market for newcomers, for example, who have nowhere else to live,” Reid said.

Nathan Rotman, Airbnb lead for Canada, says the B.C. government has gone too far.

“The way to solve the long-term rental issue is to build more housing. We represent less than one per cent of the overall number of houses in the province,” Rotman said.

“Alberta has allowed their municipalities to create rules that are made for those municipalities, not the best approach that people take. We’re going to continue to work with cities all around the country as they put in place rules and ensure that our hosts understand what their obligations are.”

In Canmore, the median assessed value of a property is more than $1 million and a single-family home is nearly $1.4 million, according to Mayor Sean Krausert.

It has nearly 2,000 short-accommodation units that are tourist homes or condos, according to information provided by the municipality.

Krausert says implementing rules similar to B.C. could help their rental vacancy rate, which is close to zero per cent, but it’s only a small part of the problem.

“I don’t know if it’s a major enough part of the puzzle,” Krausert said.

“The real concern is that we need more housing that is accessible in large volume to our residents so that we are not losing our staff or managers, some business owners to out of the community and therefore losing families and closing schools and the whole bit.”

To help solve its housing crisis, the town is trying to build thousands of non-market housing units intended for residents.

The University of Calgary short-term rental market report says the short-term rental market is under control but “now is a good time to review regulations to ensure that it stays this way.”

It’s one thing Reid agrees with.

“I would suggest that we keep an eye on that and potentially introduce legislation if we feel like that’s potentially getting out of control,” Reid said. 

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