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Editorial: Short-term rentals provide long-term pains in our housing crisis

There is a lot more our governments could be doing before rolling out the welcome mat for short-term rentals.
Short-term rental websites like Airbnb exacerbate the rental housing crisis. | Kamloops Matters files

It’s insult to injury. We bring you the story this week of a North Shore renter whose family was evicted from their long-term home so the landlord could put the property on Airbnb. Eric Limoges’ ordeal reveals numerous gaps in the system meant to protect renters.

For those experiencing the housing crisis, short-term rentals are an unwelcome guest. They take homes that could be rented to local workers and put them out of reach. They are the commodification of housing at its worst.

Obviously, we’d prefer to not be so reliant on the secondary market to supply rental homes but we went about four decades with almost no new purpose-built rentals coming onto the market.

Short-term rentals aren’t permitted on the North Shore, but municipalities rarely hand out fines, paltry as they are. It’s incumbent on the province to make enforcement easier. There is also a glaring disparity between the number of homes listed on Airbnb and Vrbo and the number of property owners facing the Speculation and Vacancy Tax, suggesting short-term rental hosts are being dishonest in their declarations.

Next month, District of North Vancouver council may vote to pursue a scheme of legalization and regulation for short-term rentals. It may actually help with enforcement but it could also woo in more potential hosts looking for short-term gains. With the tourism industry coming back to pre-pandemic levels, the incentive to turf long-term tenants in favour of vacationers is only becoming stronger.

If our council members and MLAs knew what it was to lose sleep over finding a place to rent in their own community, we believe they’d be a little more cautious about rolling out the welcome mat.

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