Nova Scotia

What condo owners can do to oust short-term rentals from their buildings

A real estate lawyer says Nova Scotia condo owners can use a 2016 Ontario court decision as a blueprint for how to get rid of unwanted short-term rentals in their building.

Lawyer says 2016 Ontario court decision 'a game changer' for condo owners looking to root out rentals

Condo units at the Anchorage in Dartmouth, N.S., owned by developer Francis Fares are offered as short-term and long-term rentals online, which has triggered conflict among tenants at the condo building. (Robert Short/CBC)

A real estate lawyer says Nova Scotia condo owners can use a 2016 Ontario court decision as a blueprint for how to get rid of unwanted short-term rentals in their building.

CBC News reported Tuesday about a conflict in the 88-unit Anchorage building in the King's Wharf development in Dartmouth.

The developer, Francis Fares, controls nearly 40 units in the building and rents some of them on short-term rental sites such as TripAdvisor and Airbnb. That's caused conflict with the condo board, which wants to stamp out the practice.

Neither Fares nor the condo board would comment on the case, which is in confidential arbitration.

Rodrigue Escayola, a real estate lawyer in Ottawa with Gowling WLG, represented a condo board that shut down short-term rentals in its building by relying on sections of the building's declaration that said units were only for the use of single families. He said the judge's decision was clear.

"A single family doesn't have a check-in, checkout time, doesn't have a cancellation policy, doesn't have rules as to how to change the towels," he said.

Lawyer Rodrigue Escayola says condo owners looking to get rid of unwanted short-term rentals in their buildings should focus on the wording of the declaration that says the units are for the use of single families. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

Escayola called the 2016 court decision "a game changer" because it allows condo boards to fight short-term rentals by using the language in their building's declaration.

He said it's vital because short-term rentals affect condo common areas that are owned by everyone.

"You're not just renting your unit. You're renting the lobby and the elevator and the entrance and the pool, if there's one, and the gym, if there's one," said Escayola.

"You're really imposing on everybody," he said.

Short-term rentals here to stay, says realtor

But a longtime Halifax realtor said prospective buyers can avoid those problems by researching the buildings where they want to live.

"Airbnb is here. It's a business model that's not going to go away. Some like it, some hate it," said Stacy Wentzell, co-founder of Harbourside Realty.

He specializes in condominium real estate and is accredited by the Canadian Condominium Institute.

Wentzell wouldn't comment on the Anchorage case specifically, but said short-term rentals often trigger conflict in condos.

"Buildings that have a majority of owner-occupied condos do not want short-term rentals in their building because they find it affects the quality of life," he said.

Stacy Wentzell is the co-founder of Harbourside Realty. (Pat Callaghan/CBC)

Wentzell said a condo buyer should hire help from a realtor and a lawyer to look over a condo corporation's documentation to learn about things such as whether the units are mostly rented or owner-occupied.

He said in Nova Scotia, it takes 80 per cent of condo owners in one building to vote in favour of amending the building's "declaration," or founding document.

Wentzell compares it to trying to amend a country's constitution.

"Then it's very enforceable by the condominium corporation. But it's hard to do after the fact," he said.

About the Author

Jack Julian

Reporter

Jack Julian joined CBC Nova Scotia as an arts reporter in 1997. His news career began on the morning of Sept. 3, 1998 following the crash of Swissair 111. He is now a data journalist in Halifax, and you can reach him at (902) 456-9180, by email at jack.julian@cbc.ca or follow him on Twitter @jackjulian

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