Community members are sharing their eviction stories with us, and the new added pressure of short-term rentals on our depleting housing supply is a frequent one. Long term tenants are being told they aren’t as lucrative as tourists, so they are being ousted from their homes so the units can be listed on “home-sharing” sites like Airbnb.
For background, in April 2019, 1 in 50 private dwellings in Charlottetown (1.93%) were listed on AirBNB making us the 2nd highest proportion among Canadian cities. Since 2016, Charlottetown has had a 200% increase in listings. Over half of those listings are for 2-3 bedroom units, and 60% of all listings have a host with multiple listings. This makes it clear that short term rentals are not just home-sharing, but an immense economic incentive to remove long-term tenants in favour of becoming a commercial property which is destabilizing our neighbourhoods. The lack of regulatory action has caused listings (and evictions) to climb rapidly and has allowed our communities to lose the neighbours that made these areas so great to visit in the first place.
We have recommendations based on research of successful regulation schemes in larger cities and tourism communities like ours. We should follow in their footsteps, and ask that our local Governments will help us in championing these:
- We are asking that a by-law is creating to restrict short-term rentals to only be operated from your principal residence – the home where you live for a minimum of 185 days a year, and is the address you use for bills, identification, taxes, etc. This allows flexibility for true home-sharing, while restricting multiple listings for commercial use.
- We are asking for a public and searchable registry of all short term rentals that are licensed with the province. This allows transparent data to the public, the tourism sector and also aids in enforcement on unlicensed listings.
- We are asking for enforcement via the short-term rental registry, but also by complaint. Other cities have implement an email address where neighbours can advise Government if someone is unlicensed in their neighbourhood.
- We are asking that operators continue to be licensed with Tourism PEI and that they are issued a registration number that is easily found on the public registry and online listings.
We’ve seen that our neighbours are leaving, living beyond their means to survive or being forced into unsafe and unhealthy living conditions. We need to take action on all pressures involved in this crisis and by applying the above actions, we can make significant progress in returning long term housing options.
- We want to protect existing long-term rental housing in our communities.
- We want to take immediate action as to return former long-term housing to the supply.
- We want to continue to allow residents to use their primary residence to earn additional income by home-sharing or short term stays to offset their housing costs.
- We want to support safe and healthy competition within the tourism industry without disrupting community members.
- We want to protect the employment opportunities of people in our communities working in legal tourist accommodations