Time to enforce Airbnb regulations - report

Time to enforce Airbnb regulations - report

Time to enforce Airbnb regulations - report Airbnb rentals are taking hundreds of properties out of the rental pool in Victoria, councillors have been told.

The report estimated that around 300 units listed on the home-sharing site could be considered to be full units in the rental housing pool, according to Jay Wollenberg, a consultant and adjunct professor with UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning, CBC News reports.

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According to Wollenberg, if the suites and homes currently listed on Airbnb were turned into long-term rentals, the city’s very tight vacancy rate – which currently stands at around 0.6% – would be eased slightly.

However, Wollenberg, who based his estimate on a review of Airbnb listings for entire suites or homes, excluding listings for spare bedrooms, advised city officials against immediate action to limit short-term vacation rentals.

He said that limiting short-term rentals would not make rents in the city any more affordable, and instead urged the city to start actively enforcing the existing regulations.

Wollenberg added that the city has approved more than 500 units of new rental construction in the past year loss, more than offsetting the number diverted to Airbnb rentals.

Meanwhile, the City of Victoria’s director of sustainable planning, Jonathan Tinney, told CBC that increased enforcement and monitoring was what city staff recommended to council.

Tinney said this was “primarily to encourage people who are operating legally to get business licenses,” adding that “we could start to track them, find out where they are and learn about these different activities, which would then allow us to provide regulations that reflect the reality of the market here in Victoria.”

In 1,700 units in the downtown core, short-term rentals are legal under existing zoning, and according to Tinney, “A number of owners may have purchased their unit with the expectation that they would be able to do this.”

City of Victoria councillors voted to put off any decision on dealing with the issue of Airbnb rentals until a workshop can be arranged to discuss it in detail within the next couple of months, the report said.

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