The city of Charlottetown should restrict short-term rentals to primary residences of those who rent rooms, and specifically exclude apartments, according to a new report from the city’s Planning and Heritage Department.
The report, which will be submitted to city council and town planning council for their October meetings, says recent public consultations on the subject of short-term rentals (STRs) showed that there was a community consensus behind such a policy. (A link to the report appears at the end of this article.)
Housing advocates have long called for more regulations on short-term rentals, arguing that they threaten the affordability of housing in the city by encouraging people to buy homes to rent to tourists rather than leaving them at home. available to long-term tenants.
The report notes that the number of STR private home listings in Charlottetown increased by 7.9% between September 2018 and the same period the following year.
The report states that only 265 out of a total of 635 short-term rental listings in the city were recorded in PEI Tourism’s licensed registry database, meaning more than half of listings in Charlottetown were not listed. not in accordance with provincial legislation.
Tourism PEI’s issuance of tourist accommodation licenses without ever confirming their approval with the municipality has resulted in “both confusion and a proliferation” of non-compliant STRs in the city, the report continues.
The report recommends that council establish a municipal STR registry linked to its provincial counterpart to ensure that the regulations of both jurisdictions are followed.
He said the city should consider implementing a bylaw to set its own licensing requirements, which would then be integrated into the provincial system.
He also suggests that a municipal permit program could:
- introduce annual license fees for STR platforms;
- require hosts to obtain building permits and be approved for occupancy; and
- make specific exemptions for other accommodation providers, such as hotels, motels and cabins.
The report states that a separate enforcement strategy for non-compliant STRs should be implemented and should involve the province to ensure that the regulations of both jurisdictions are followed.
A total of $ 8.5 million in revenue was collectively generated by 409 private web hosts in 2019, according to the report’s estimates.
The top 10 percent of hosts earned 47 percent of all STR revenue on Prince Edward Island, which the report says indicates an “increase in commercialization” of STR activity .
He says marketed STRs, which are defined as lists of entire homes available for much of the year, pose the “greatest threat” to the reduction in long-term housing supply.
“This massive transition through the commercialization of long-term housing converted to short-term housing has affected availability and affordability in the form of gentrification of Charlottetown’s housing supply.
Suburban problem too
The report says the highest concentration of STR listings of non-primary residences is in the city center, but it also appears to be spreading to the suburbs.
Moreover, the report states that the STR industry is only becoming more and more commercialized.
In 2017, listings from primary residences represented 66.4% of all listings and 49.6% of all bookings, compared to 59.6% of listings and 40.9% of bookings in 2019.
As COVID-19 has impacted Charlottetown’s STR industry and the tourism sector as a whole, report says rising vaccination rates along with pent-up travel demand means demand for rentals will return .
The report says that a monitoring program to study the status of the local STR industry should be put in place regardless of which regulatory framework the board decides to adopt.