Commotion in the night, clomping of feet and chatter of strangers in the hallways due to a "revolving door" of Airbnb tenants has become cause for concern among Edmonton's condo-dwellers, according to lawyer Robert Noce.
"They're concerned about the safety of the residents in a traditional-style condominium building and as a result have sought my advice as to whether or not these short term leases can be stopped," said Noce, a partner with Miller Thomson, an Alberta law firm specializing in condominium law.
In response to a myriad of resident complaints, more than a dozen Edmonton condo boards have sought Noce's legal advice on how to exclude Airbnb tenants from their properties; five of them have subsequently hired his firm in an attempt to clamp down on the new service.
The northern Alberta chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute says they're watching Airbnb closely, calling it an "emerging issue among condo boards and owners."
"There are 8,000 condo board associations in Alberta, so it's hard to gauge how big of a problem this has become in condo living in Alberta," said Noce.
"But these boards have been caught off guard."
Airbnb provides short-term and travel rentals. The online booking service connects property owners, with travellers in search of a place to stay. With more than 300 active listings in Edmonton, the 'house-share' service continues to grow in popularity.
The service offers travellers a cheap place to stay and gives homeowners a quick way to make a few bucks, but Noce says the emerging business has caught many condo boards by surprise.
"Typically people think of rental units as someone taking a long term lease — a year or two or three — so it's never been an issue before, but our legislation has not kept up with technology so it's become a fairly new issue."
Airbnb operates in a regulatory grey area, according to Noce. Provincial and municipal regulation is limited, leaving it up to individual condo associations to navigate an influx of unwelcome 'guests.'
Alberta condo owners are legally allowed to rent their properties, unless the practice is otherwise prohibited by the condo board. But Noce says many condo associations haven't updated their bylaws in decades, and have no way to clamp down on a revolving door of tenants.
"Keep your bylaws up to date, and recognize that we're in 2016, not 1980 when your bylaws were first approved, for example," said Noce
"The language is old and the concepts are old."
Noce says provincial guidelines should be amended to better regulate house-sharing. Until that happens, condo boards may be forced to pursue civil litigation if they want to evict short-term tenants from their properties.
"They have had to catch up to the technology. No one was watching these trends and saying we should be dealing with this before it becomes a problem. And it's become a problem.'"