PEI

Green MLA calls on province to regulate short-term rentals

The Green Party is calling on the P.E.I. government to implement provincial regulations for short-term rentals. 

Minister Ernie Hudson says he wants to collaborate with municipalities, not 'dictate'

Green MLA Hannah Bell is calling on the province to regulate short-term rentals, to protect housing supply and tenants. (John MacDougall/Getty Images)

The Green Party is calling on the P.E.I. government to implement provincial regulations for short-term rentals. 

The issue of short term rentals — through sites such as Airbnb and VRBO — has been a key focus in public discussions about the Island's low vacancy rate. 

In November 2018, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported a vacancy rate on the Island of just 0.3 per cent. In April, an analysis by CBC found that 1 in 50 private dwellings in Charlottetown was listed for rent on Airbnb. 

In question period Thursday, Green MLA Hannah Bell brought up the issue of short-term rentals — and called on the province to act. 

"While short-term rentals are not the sole cause of the current housing crisis, they are a contributing factor, especially in the turnover of existing long-term rental units, as tenants are 'reno-victed,'" said Bell, who is also Opposition critic for social development and housing.

'We have to collaborate'

Short-term rentals are required to be licensed, but Bell said those regulations protect tourists, not the housing supply or tenants. She asked the minister of social development and housing if his department would develop regulations to restrict the "unregulated growth" of short-term rentals across province.

"Some municipalities seem reluctant to act … and are looking to the province to provide solutions. Solutions that are required urgently," Bell said. 

'I would much prefer to collaborate as to dictate what should be taking place,' says Ernie Hudson, minister of social development and housing.

Minister Ernie Hudson acknowledged that there is a housing crisis on the Island, but would not commit to introducing regulations.

"We have to have the discussion with the municipalities, but we have to collaborate," Hudson said.

"I would much prefer to collaborate as to dictate what should be taking place."

Premier, minister to meet with mayors 

Bell said while she recognizes that Hudson is new to the housing portfolio, the housing crisis is not new, and needs quick action.

"The time for discussion and consultation is well-passed," Bell said. 

Bell would like to see a clear definition about what a short-term rental is, and wants those rentals to be restricted to properties that are the owner's primary residence.

During question period, Green MLA Hannah Bell called on government to develop regulations for short-term rentals. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. )

The PCs said the issue is top of mind. 

James Aylward, the minister responsible for greater Charlottetown, said he and Premier Dennis King have a meeting planned for Monday with the mayors of Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall.

Aylward said short-term rentals will be one of the top items on the agenda.

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About the Author

Sarah MacMillan is a reporter with CBC Sudbury. She previously worked with CBC P.E.I. You can contact her at sarah.macmillan@cbc.ca

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