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Short-term rental regulations
#1
CBC has an article titled How Kitchener and Waterloo are dealing with the Airbnb market

The short answer is that they're not. Toronto has recently passed regulations on short-term rentals, as many of you probably know.

Kitchener and Waterloo have both not felt the need to do so, and they're probably right. But I wonder for how long. Already there's talk (premature in my estimation, but sometimes being proactive is a good idea) about a lack of affordable housing in KW. People taking rental units out of circulation to rent them out short-term could start to exacerbate this.

Long term, I don't see how municipalities can help but regulate these short-term rentals. They are almost by definition offered by amateurs who are unaware of safety and other standards. To wit: one of my neighbours installed a basement apartment in a duplex, to rent out exclusively on a short-term basis. Zoning would have allowed for this, but it would have been expensive to provide for proper separation between the units, and enlarge windows to allow for egress in the case of a fire. So he simply didn't. Visitors to the city have no real conception of the fact that they are sleeping in a unit that was never inspected by any authority, and does not meet fire code.

Actually, I have two neighbours who have done just this, thinking about it. One the duplex, another in the basement of the person's home. Neither pulled permits and neither meets egress (or I imagine other) requirements.

I have mixed feelings about Waterloo's rental licensing, but at least it theoretically addresses that issue.

There are positives to short-term rentals, for sure. It can be a modest additional income stream for some people interested in renting out a room in their home at only certain times. But I really could see it becoming an issue in some neighbourhoods in the city, wherein a significant proportion of rental units are taken off to market to rent short-term.
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#2
Cities can regulate short-term rentals but really enforcement is quite difficult unless they work directly with companies like AirBNB and HomeAway. I use AirBNB fairly regularly and I know short-term rentals are disallowed in some of the cities I have stayed in (or only allowed in primary residences) -- and yet there are tons of listings on AirBNB.

AirBNB can indeed take some rental units off the market, but I expect most of these are not at the affordable end of the spectrum: most of the listings for complete apartments, whether in the region or elsewhere, tend to be for fairly nice units, not basic/affordable ones.

I believe the biggest impact is in condo buildings where investor unit owners might choose to do short-term rentals rather than renting to long-term tenants. Many condo buildings' declarations and/or bylaws forbid this so they attempt to prevent this practice (a little bit easier than for a city, but still a challenge) but some buildings do not. And declarations are really, really hard to change. So recently one such building in Toronto signed an agreement with AirBNB regulating activity in the building: AirBNB will report all listings, provide insurance and provide a percentage of the revenue to the building to help with maintenance.
http://www.lashcondolaw.com/condo-corpor...m-rentals/
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#3
(12-06-2017, 09:41 AM)tomh009 Wrote: Cities can regulate short-term rentals but really enforcement is quite difficult unless they work directly with companies like AirBNB and HomeAway.

What's to stop a municipality from, say, instructing a bylaw officer from doing a search once a month on one of these sites, and investigating each instance where a unit is being rented that doesn't exist on the books?

I guess the same reason why they don't seem to check kijiji for rental units. Which is: I don't know.

You're right that regulating just short-term rentals would be difficult. I disagree that taking a unit out of the market that is fairly nice does not have an impact on affordability. More units on the market (at whatever price point) increases affordability; conversely, removing units at any price point has a negative impact on it.
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#4
I think someone said it best on twitter the other day: the iPhone X is not at all a cheap phone. But it is what forces down the price on iPhone 7, which forces down the price on iPhone 6, and so on. People will buy the nicest place they can find or afford, and so if you don't give people the option to rent the currently-nice-AirBnB, they move downmarket, which forces the potential renter of that downmarket unit to move farther downmarket, and effectively you push someone out of the bottom of the market.
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#5
(12-06-2017, 09:57 AM)MidTowner Wrote:
(12-06-2017, 09:41 AM)tomh009 Wrote: Cities can regulate short-term rentals but really enforcement is quite difficult unless they work directly with companies like AirBNB and HomeAway.

What's to stop a municipality from, say, instructing a bylaw officer from doing a search once a month on one of these sites, and investigating each instance where a unit is being rented that doesn't exist on the books?

I guess the same reason why they don't seem to check kijiji for rental units. Which is: I don't know.

You're right that regulating just short-term rentals would be difficult. I disagree that taking a unit out of the market that is fairly nice does not have an impact on affordability. More units on the market (at whatever price point) increases affordability; conversely, removing units at any price point has a negative impact on it.

Investigating listings is non-trivial since you don't see an address until you have made a (typically non-refundable) booking. Unless you can recognize the photos ... which is maybe easier for a condo corporation than for a city.

Using units for short-term rentals does reduce availability. At some point it will also increase prices (and thus reduce affordability), depending on the vacancy rates. How quickly and what market segments does depend on the specific market.
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#6
Oftentimes, an exterior photo will be provided, which makes the process extremely straightforward for a smaller building or private home with accessory apartment.
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#7
Sometimes, yes. And for some buildings. So it's possible to sometimes identify some listings. Personally, I don't think that's effective enforcement. Kind of like being able to ticket one car out of five parked on the bicycle lane in Waterloo: it's not quite a solution.

Negotiating an agreement with AirBNB and licensing them accordingly would be a better solution, I think.
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