Update October 25th: While debate was originally scheduled for October 25th, due to workload considerations, I made the decision to table these motions until a council meeting following the fall operating budget adjustment (likely December). In the interim, I will be working with my colleagues to try and marshall subsequent resources for enforcement, reviewing permitting fees, taxation, and addressing the concerns of Edmontonians. Calgary is undertaking research on Short Term Rentals and I look forward to learning more about their work underway.
"What we have here is a residential street with residential zoning being used for commercial use with no supervision, no front desk. It's not even as safe as living next to a hotel because there is no night watchman, there's nothing." - CBC News
Cities across North America are re-thinking Short Term Rentals. it’s time that Edmonton does the same.
According to watchdog, AirDNA.ca, Edmonton has approximately 4.4 thousand active short-term rental listings such as airBnB or VRBO. They also note the market has grown dramatically including 18% last year. In 2019, City administration suggested that approximately half were operating without a valid business license (Note that they are supposed to include their business license number in the advertisement). Like the illegal parking lots, or any illegal operation, they should be rigorously shut down or fined into compliance.
And while lobbyists may share the "mom and pop" talking points, data shows that some hosts have as many as 45 properties.
Read more from FairBNB.ca: https://fairbnb.ca/2023/09/20/for-immiate-release-the-role-of-short-term-rentals-in-b-c-s-rising-rents-a-2-billion-impact-according-to-mcgill-university-study/#jp-carousel-2424
The Rent is too damn High
In the midst of our housing crisis, taking homes off the market to transition them into Short-term rentals constrains housing supply and leads to increased rents for those fortunate enough to need a home.
A New study from McGill suggests B.C. renters paying 'Airbnb tax' due to market pressures. A team of researchers has crunched the numbers and estimates that British Columbia’s renters are paying roughly 20 per cent more than they otherwise would have due to the impact of short-term rentals. (https://bc.ctvnews.ca/new-report-suggests-b-c-renters-paying-airbnb-tax-due-to-market-pressures-1.6569716)
Party Houses continue to be a repeated burden.
With absent hosts, the enforcement burden is downloaded or externalized onto the neighbours. The landlord keeps the profit and the cleaning fee while the community has to pay more tax to clean up the mess.
My office has received too many calls from residents in the surrounding community who end up having to call bylaw or the police and strain our existing resources. The infractions and complaints I have received range from noise bylaw to waste to parking.
As a city, have we realized the intended benefit from allowing short-term rentals?
While their may be a perceived benefit to private landlords, the negative impacts to the overall housing market to the 36% of Edmontonians who rent are incredibly significant.
From conversations with my City Council colleagues, I know my office is not alone in these concerns, and community groups such as Student Legal Services have also been researching the negative impacts that short term rentals have on the housing market.
I would like to see two immediate actions made to amend our Business Bylaw.
"That City Council move to amend the Bylaw 2002 (Section 60) residential short-term rental to add:
(f) not to exceed 90 days a year
(g) to require the owner to remain on the premises for the duration
City of Edmonton Business Bylaw:
Provincial government wants to fine companies up to $100K per listing if they don't follow the rules
Thorben Wieditz, the director of Fairbnb, is hopeful the legislation will set a new countrywide standard, whereby other provinces set up their own registries. His organization was formed in 2016 by a hotel workers' union in Toronto concerned about the proliferation of condo towers filled with Airbnb rentals. Fairbnb has since pushed for cities across Canada to develop stronger rules that allow homeowners to rent out their own unit occasionally but crack down on properties being solely used as short-term rentals.