House rented online upsets people in St. John's neighbourhood

A home on Regent Street in St. John's that was being advertised online for nightly rental of a room upset some neighbours in the area.
Homes in St. John's are renting rooms out by the night without permits, reports Ariana Kelland 2:03

A house on Regent Street in St. John's that was being advertised online for nightly rental of a room upset some neighbours in the area.

In the past, the house had been for sale and for lease — but recently the owner decided to go another route.

Two weeks ago neighbours noticed an ad offering rooms at $133 a night. Those concerns were brought to ward councillor Danny Breen, who says the owner would need a permit to rent out rooms on a nightly basis like that.

Ward councillor Danny Breen says the owner didn't have the permits required to rent out rooms on a nightly basis, but does have the right to rent out rooms with his ongoing lease agreement. (CBC)

"In this case, it was renting it room by room on a nightly basis, so it really was something like a bed and breakfast — that type of operation," Breen said. "And for those types of operations you need special permits and approval by council."

Some people in the neighbourhood said they want a family to live in the home, but Breen said the owner has the right to rent out the rooms individually.

"The owner of the property can rent it — he has a lease signed with a company to rent the house. It may very well be a family that is living there, but under our regulations you can rent up to four rooms on an ongoing lease," he said.

According to Breen, this is a trend in the city that isn't all that new.

"It's not the first time — it's actually becoming rather common," he said.

"There's many people who have children going to university who may actually buy houses in the city and have their children and have roommates who live in the houses. That's become very common around the city."

High demand for short-term

Ron Edmunds, with Dovre Canada Ltd., said the city could use a boost in the number of short-term accommodations.

"They're very limited, so absolutely St. John's could use more of that kind of facility," Edmunds said.

"[Demand] is increasing every day with all the projects that we have … so the demand for foreign workers coming in for a short-term accommodation is certainly increasing."

Edmunds said his company frequently needs to find short-term accommodations for people they bring in to work on projects, and they have had a harder time finding suitable accommodations.

"The guys we bring in are primarily engineers who work worldwide and are used to high-end accommodations, and they expect that, so what the city needs is more mid to high-end condo, fully furnished type accommodations," he said.

According to Breen, the city doesn't have officers looking into homes listed by the night, and that they work on a complaint basis only.