Nova Scotia

Airbnb industry needs regulation, community council agrees

Bill Stewart, a member of the community group Neighbours Speak Up, made a number of recommendations Tuesday to prevent what he calls "ghost hotels" from ruining residential neighbourhoods.

There are more than 1,800 Airbnbs in the Halifax region, according to company that compiles market information

According to AirDNA, a company that compiles market information on short-term rentals, there are more than 1,800 Airbnbs in the Halifax region. Nearly three-quarters are entire homes, and about a third are available "full time." (airbnb.com)

The Halifax and West Community Council agrees that the local Airbnb industry needs some regulations.

"We're hearing stories of people being kicked out of their rental properties because of this," said Coun. Lindell Smith. "It happened so quickly."

Bill Stewart, a member of the community group Neighbours Speak Up, made a presentation Tuesday night to the council. He made a number of recommendations to prevent what he calls "ghost hotels" from ruining residential neighbourhoods.

"All short-term rentals where the owner is not the primary resident should be designated as a business, taxed on a commercial basis and not permitted in residential zones," said Stewart.

Stewart also said there should be limits on short-term rentals, even if it is done with an owner who is a primary resident.

"They should be limited to two rooms with a maximum of two persons per room," said Stewart. "And a limit of 30 days per year."

According to AirDNA, a company that compiles market information on short-term rentals, there are more than 1,800 Airbnbs in the Halifax region. Nearly three-quarters are entire homes, and about a third are available "full time."

Earlier this year, the provincial government introduced two bills aimed at short-term rentals. One of the bills introduced  ensures any "small-scale residential tourist accommodation" is assessed for property taxes at a residential rate rather than as a business. The other encourages Nova Scotians who list accommodations online to register with the province.

Coun. Waye Mason said other cities do have restrictions on short-term rental accommodations.

"In Paris, you're only allowed to rent for 120 days or 90 days a year on Airbnb," said Mason. "By doing that you're only allowing it part time."

The community council referred Stewart's presentation to HRM staff who are already preparing a report on regulations for short term rentals.

Tourism is a $2.7 billion industry in Nova Scotia, employing more than 40,000 people.  

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