Tuesday 26 March 2019

Vancouver proof tighter legislation can reduce rents

Vancouver
Vancouver
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Only one city that has tightened regulations on short-term lets globally has recorded an improved long-term rental landscape with prices starting to stabilise.

Vancouver in Canada has witnessed a long-running debate on Airbnb as the city, like Dublin and countless cities globally, seeks to respond to a shortage of rental properties.

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In June 2017, a one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver was CAD$2,090 (€1,358) a month, according to the website PadMapper.

Fourteen months later, in August, the average price had fallen to $2,000. Now a one-bedroom apartment can be found for $1,500. The city has also seen a decrease of the number of listings on Airbnb, dropping from 6,600 in April to 3,742 after new regulations were introduced in September.

The new rules detail that homeowners can only offer their primary residences for short-term rental and they must have a $49-a-year licence to operate.

The city, like Dublin, had not only seen a drop in the number of long-term rentals, but an extraordinary increase in rent costs.

Vancouver could see the number of short-term listings decrease even further, as the rules are enforced. Only around 2,630 licences have been issued so far, meaning 1,112 remain unlicensed, while multiple listings have been reported to have been using the same licence number.

Fines for flouting the rules can reach up to $1,000 a day for misuse or misrepresentation of a licence.

Airbnb is also facing regulations in Amsterdam, Iceland, California, New York and other popular tourist destinations.

In January 2018, the authorities in Amsterdam announced the city would be halving its number of Airbnb rental nights from 60 to 30 - but this move was not enforced until the start of this year.

Meanwhile in New York, one of the toughest cities in the world to find a rental home, Airbnb was asked earlier this year to hand over the names and details of all their hosts in the city, to regulate the system.

The company said this was against privacy. Airbnb takes around 15pc of revenue from bookings, or what users pay to rent homes and apartments on the platform.

The company and its hosts were expected to make around US$140m (€123.5m) gross on bookings in New York City last year, Bloomberg reported. That number is expected to decrease by half when legislation is enforced this month.

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