Below are just a few of the stories that people have shared with us about the effects of unregulated short-term rentals on their lives, their livelihoods, and their neighbourhoods.
“We're in a crisis. There are no vacancies and rental rates have increased so significantly that most folks who work and live here are priced out of housing." She said an influx of new residents, an increase in vacation homes and short-term rentals, and skyrocketing inflation are causing the situation to deteriorate quickly. "It has never been this bad before.” Lisa Ryan, Executive Director of the South Shore Open Doors Association, CBC,
“I am currently renting and feel like the housing 'crisis' is being pushed by these short-term rentals. I would eventually like to own a home but I am very close to being priced out even with an above average income. What can we do to request the government to tax these as commercial properties? Are they not hoteliers now renting out properties by the night?” - Kristine, HRM Resident
“After the rest of my building was turned into Airbnbs, the landlord came to tell me he eventually hopes to turn my unit into and Airbnb as well. He spent a while explaining how inflation is hurting the bottom line of landlords. He asked if I would voluntarily start paying more rent than was allowed by the rent cap. Obviously, I declined, but I think this is a good example of the situation going on right now in HRM. Airbnb is ruining communities by turning our housing into investment opportunities for the rich. I'm concerned that other community members may have felt pressured by such a request and agreed to pay more in rent.” - HRM Resident
“For the past almost 30 years this has been a delightful little neighbourhood. Recently though homes are being bought for the sole purpose of running them as Airbnbs. No on site owners. No security. A turnover of strangers every few days. Last year someone was shot and killed in one. It is like owning a home surrounded by unregulated hotels.” - Dartmouth Resident
“A long term resident dies, house gets sold, renovations start, owners say they will be moving in when kids finish school, and when renos complete; a steady stream of people coming and going. The house was converted to a two unit, short-term rental, in an R-1 zone. Cars, people, taxis, fast food delivery, parcel delivery etc coming and going 24 hours a day. Noise and light pollution. Headlights shining into my windows from idling vehicles and vehicles turning around in my driveway, garbage on the street, people standing on curb in front of my property, drinking and smoking and throwing butts onto the street,etc. I go into concerned and nervous mode when cars pull up. Never sure what kind of issues and problems will arise, and what risk to my property and self that may occur. It's scary and stressful.” - HRM Resident
"I appreciated getting your letter in our mail box. I've become increasingly concerned about the rise of airbnbs in our city, especially as to how they are linked to decreasing vacancy rates and the increasing cost of rent across the city.".- HRM Resident
"We live across the street from an Airbnb ghost hotel. The "super host" owner may not even live in Canada. Among other homes, he's got this 5-bdrm heritage mansion and it's booked nearly solid.
There's a large deck that guests just love to jump up and down on with the music cranked, usually starting at noon. There are often liquor boxes left in front of the property after the weekend's drunkfest, sometimes for days. Every Thursday our anxiety level ramps up while we wait for that weekend's hen party, stag, or pub crawlers. This Saturday it was a wedding group of 10, with around 15 extra guests and a chartered bus hogging the narrow street.
In the past we've called the police at 3am for noise infractions, loud vomiting and arguments on the sidewalk. We've sent emails to the host and our City Councillor. It's beyond stressful, and we're afraid of making pests of ourselves to the Police, so we don't call unless it's really out-of-hand.
Most of our neighbours are seniors and shut-ins who don't want to get involved, even though the noise drives them off their balconies (for some, the only chance they have to be outside). Personally, we're tired of spending our weekends with the windows closed and our headphones on.
I've been following Airbnb in the news for a few years now, and I've personally experienced how hard it is to find an affordable apartment to rent. We have a chance to do something different here, to set an example for cities held captive to short-term rentals." - HRM Resident
"We're onside. We are plagued by an Airbnb that backs onto the lane directly south of us ... constant partying at this Airbnb, our sleep in summer is ruined nightly...partyers were launching whizz-bangs at 3 a.m. ...we hear the drunken roar nightly, straight thru till morning. Noisy partyers roam our back lane and the street in front. The neighborhood feels unsafe, and it is unsafe. Amenities we counted on are also gone. Street parking, for instance, owing to short-term rentals and the creep of other infringements.
There's an Airbnb, as well, right up the street from us. The area, once a coveted address, seems bound for ruin. Our family's had a 40-yr history here. We're eyewitnesses to the deterioration. We're concerned for ourselves, but we're equally concerned for those potentially disenfranchised by commercial interests. Who's being displaced?"
- Hydrostone Resident
"I am the owner and operator of a small cottage resort. We are going into our 30th year of business which will most likely be our last. We have watched our occupancy dwindle in concert with the growth of illegal Airbnb offerings around us. I have had many consultations with all facets of government. I have sent dozens of emails to MPs, MLAs, CRA, (local) Councillors and even TIANS, etc. only to fall on deaf ears. I have a lot of knowledge about the growth of this so called "sharing economy" and I also have many suggestions on how to regulate the short-term accommodation industry." - South Shore Resident
"Like many others in my neighbourhood, I have concerns about how this industry affects the neighbourhood integrity and affordable rental stock in our community. I do use short-term rentals myself from time-to-time and agree that when done properly, they are a great business innovation - but I don't like how I see the system being abused in Halifax - where entire buildings are used only as short-term rentals but without being properly regulated or taxed." - HRM Resident
"I just learned about your initiative and heard your story on the news. We live near a university, and have been dealing with absentee landlords for years with the student housing market. We've been here 25 years, and seen such a deterioration of our neighbourhood. I just called 311 about two properties where there is no-one living and the grass was not being cut. Plus we deal with constant garbage issues - students who can't be bothered and apathetic owners. Had the police to “one of the” homes a couple of times already this summer. You are so right with what you are doing!" - South End Resident
Kevin Hooper, manager of partnerships and community development for United Way Halifax, says short-term rentals have a ripple effect. “When someone owns multiple properties and is renting them out short-term rather than on the traditional market, it’s taking away what could be an affordable home for someone,” says Hooper. “The vacancy rate is already lower than we’ve ever seen, and there is considerable competition for fewer available units. We feel it’s important to raise attention to affordable housing crunch being felt in our city.”