When it comes to short-term rentals, let us prioritize the needs of B.C. residents

The provincial government is tightening Airbnb regulations, but does this really help solve the housing crisis?

The provincial government's new short-term rental legislation comes with increased fines and new restrictions on which properties are eligible to be short-term rentals. (Wikicommons/Raysonho)

The provincial government’s new short-term rental legislation comes with increased fines and new restrictions on which properties are eligible to be short-term rentals. (Wikicommons/Raysonho)

The Government of British Columbia recently enforced new regulations restricting short-term rentals in the province, starting May 1, meaning homeowners who rent out their properties as an Airbnb may no longer be allowed to do so.  

The new rules aim to strike a balance between upholding property owners’ rights to make money, and making sure there are reasonable price rentals available in the city long-term. The stricter rules for Airbnb would discourage landlords from withdrawing long-term rentals from the market, which would provide more space for residents. 

However, with tourists who rent short-term accommodations that could otherwise be used as a place of residence, short-term rentals have an impact on neighbourhoods. Big cities like Vancouver, where residents already struggle to find affordable housing, are examples of this. 

Since most Airbnbs are situated in residential areas, visitors looking to go out late may cause disturbances to people residing in the area. Complaints about loud noises, littering, and illegal parking are more common in neighbourhoods where short-term Airbnb rentals are located.  

Nonetheless, Airbnb’s provision of reasonably priced, short-term rentals will act as a means of increased tourism, even for lesser-known tourist spots. It’s crucial to acknowledge the fact that short-term rentals influence the community, and the government must strive towards effective regulations to protect local communities. 

Since the COVID-19 epidemic, there has been a severe shortage of accommodation for locals looking for long-term or permanent housing due to the high number of short-term rental ads on websites like Airbnb, Expedia, and FlipKey. 

The regulations are intended to target property owners who rent out several apartments short-term where they don’t reside themselves, said B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon in an interview with the CBC. Thus, homeowners who prefer reasonable short-term rentals, would not lose the freedom to utilize their property as they see fit, as they can do so whenever they want. 

Enforcement teams will also be established to make sure the rule is obeyed, Kahlon said. If hosts violate municipal rules, the potential fines will rise from $1,000 to $3,000 per infraction, per day. 

However, it’s important to note that landowners should have the freedom to decide what best suits their property, and good housing should be accessible to all those in need. Owners who rent out short-term apartments on Airbnb contend that they sell their property to an occupier which does nothing but benefit the local community. 

The housing issue in Canada is caused by more than just beds and breakfasts. The government must act when necessary to address income disparity, as it significantly affects housing affordability as well as job growth and stability. 

Canada’s housing affordability problem is a serious one and requires a comprehensive response from the government. By addressing the underlying causes of this problem and putting the appropriate policies and strategies in place, the government can make sure all Canadians have access to housing at a reasonable price, which will further contribute to future growth and prosperity of the nation.