Nova Scotia

North-end Halifax residents call for local Airbnb regulations

Residents of the Halifax Hydrostone neighbourhood are lobbying the municipal government to tighten the rules around short-term rental accommodations, especially where the hosts don't live on site.

Sudden growth of short-term accommodation causing headaches for some

Residents of the Hydrostone neighbourhood in the north end of Halifax are unhappy with the current lack of regulation of the short-term accommodation industry. (John MacDougall/Getty Images)

When a house in north-end Halifax was sold and turned into an Airbnb by someone who doesn't live at the property, Bill Stewart said he and his neighbours took on the unwelcome job of defacto managers.

"Essentially, it's become an unmanaged hotel," Stewart told CBC's Information Morning. "We've had a number of situations where we've had to call the police. There's been noise, parties, that kind of thing.

"The other thing for us is the sustainability of the neighbourhood. We're losing a neighbour when we lose a house here, and we're also losing a good piece of available housing for someone who wants to rent or purchase."

Stewart is one of a group of residents in the Hydrostone neighbourhood in Halifax lobbying the municipal government to change the rules around short-term rental accommodations, especially where the hosts don't live at the income property.

The short-term accommodation business, of which Airbnb is the industry leader, was estimated to be worth $58 million in Nova Scotia at the end of 2018, income earned by more than 3,800 hosts.

While some point to Airbnb as driving local business and improving the economy, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia has suggested it wants to see an increase in regulations.

New rules next year

In March, the province introduced bills 99 and 101, which will force hosts of short-term accommodations who don't live on site to register as a business and keep records of all transactions.

The bills won't be enacted until next March to allow time to consult with municipalities and stakeholders. Stewart would like the Halifax Regional Municipality to step up, too.

He said the city should consider short-term accomodations where the owner doesn't live on site as commercial enterprises, which are not allowed in residential neighbourhoods zoned such as his.

"Our primary goal from the start is that we wanted the province and the municipality to consult with neighbourhoods as opposed to just the tourism industry," said Stewart.

Halifax District 8 Coun. Lindell Smith has been talking to Stewart and the Hydrostone residents. He'll be asking for a report on the situation at council's next community planning and economic development meeting.

"This business is especially interesting because its growth has been so quick," said Smith. "The challenge has been to stay on top of it. Housing has stopped being available, and some people are getting kicked out of their apartments. What can our city do to address this? That's what we're looking in to."

With files from Information Morning