The City of Summerside is looking into how short-term rentals are affecting the community’s housing stock.
Charlottetown is well into a process that could regulate short-term rentals. In early March the city released a report documenting how different regulation scenarios could release more of the rentals into the long-term housing market.
Both P.E.I. cities have chronic low apartment vacancy rates. In October, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation found an apartment vacancy rate in Summerside of just 0.7 per cent.
But Coun. Carrie Adams, chair of the bylaw policy and review committee, said at this point the city doesn’t know much about the short-term rentals in the city, and whether regulation is needed.
“We really have to see how much of a problem it is,” said Adams.
“Right now we can’t say we would or we wouldn’t because we’d have to investigate. And then we’d have to take everything that we find on the bylaw policy review committee, we’d take that to council for further consideration.”
The city really has no idea how many short-term rental units it has. Many are unregistered, she said, and they are listed on a variety of sites, from Airbnb to Kijiji.
The city does not have enough apartments, she said, and she does not believe simply regulating short-term rentals will fix that problem.
“There is a need for accessible and affordable development for sure,” said Adams.
The report in Charlottetown found regulating the vacation rentals could have a significant impact on vacancy rates. Adams said she is also hearing from operators of hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts about the impact on their businesses.
Adams’s committee will look at how other cities, such as Charlottetown, have considered dealing with short-term rentals, she said.
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