'Essentially, a hotel': Neighbour fed up with Airbnb house in southwest Edmonton

A homeowner says she is frustrated by the lack of rules surrounding short-term rentals in Edmonton after a home in her neighbourhood was turned into a full-time Airbnb business.

City looking at regulating growing short-term rental market

Heidi Johnson, whose neighbour rents out his home full time on Airbnb, urges the city to adopt stronger rules around short-term rentals 1:21

A homeowner says she is frustrated by the lack of rules surrounding short-term rentals in Edmonton after a home in her neighbourhood was turned into a full-time Airbnb business.

Heidi Johnson said the constant comings and goings of the renters have broken the tranquillity of her cul-de-sac, located in the Haddow neighbourhood in southwest Edmonton. 

She told CBC that the guests are noisy, host events, leave garbage outside, and park all over the street.

"Essentially, a hotel is running on our street," Johnson said. 

She said that since the owner doesn't live on the property, he's not present to enforce the rules. 

"It's left to the neighbours to have to manage these issues and to call and complain," Johnson said. "None of us signed up for that."

Andrew Ross, who owns the property and manages the Airbnb listing, said he is following the law and that the complaints are blown out of proportion.

"Anytime there's been any sort of issue, I've been involved and I've responded," said Ross. "I've gone above and beyond trying to rectify any issues."

Problems can arise with any type of tenant, including homeowners, he said.

"There can be issues with anything, it doesn't necessarily have to be an Airbnb to have an issue."

Ross said he has had no complaints at the four other Airbnb properties that he manages.

He suggested neighbours call bylaw enforcement to deal with issues related to parking, noise, and garbage.
Heidi Johnson says these vehicles were parked across the cul-de-sac during an event hosted by guests at the Airbnb property last summer. (Heidi Johnson)

Bylaw complaints

Johnson said she has reported the issues to the City of Edmonton, but added bylaws are not enough to deal with the situation. 

"By the time you phone bylaw, they might come out a day or two after, the renter has checked out and moved on."

The city doesn't have specific regulations to deal with short-term rental businesses conducted through online platforms like Airbnb or Vacation Rentals by Owner.

City administration has been tasked with coming up with ways of using current bylaws to respond to complaints.

"We're preparing a memo for council to outline how we can make better use of those bylaws to enforce some of those direct impacts that can come from short-term rental," said Anne Stevenson, senior planner with the City of Edmonton.
A neighbour frustrated with Airbnb guests parking in front of his home posted this no-parking sign. The parking spot is on a public street. (Josee St-Onge)

Regulations may be coming

The city will also look at a possible regulatory framework for the short-term rental market, Stevenson said.

The public will be consulted and options will go to city council early next year, she said.

"There may be some people who just occasionally, when they are on holidays, rent out their homes versus someone who runs it as a commercial business.

"Those are some of the nuances and some of the complexity in regulating short-term rentals." 

This could include requiring Airbnb hosts to acquire a business licence.

Ross said he's already applied for one and will comply with any new regulation.

"I'm always on board with any improvements that the city can make, that Airbnb can make, to make things safer, to make people happier," Ross said. "But I think it has to be within reason as well."

The short-term rental market in Edmonton has grown from 44 listings in 2014, to 1,105 listings in 2017, according to city data.

Of those, only 10 per cent are rented for more than 90 days a year.


About the Author

Josee St-Onge


Josee St-Onge is a journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has also reported in French for Radio-Canada in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Reach her at josee.st-onge@cbc.ca