Headline News By Matthew Kupfer 90 Views

Ottawa's 'draconian' Airbnb rules will hurt students, landlord says

An Ottawa landlord says the city's proposed short-term rental rules will inadvertently force students into signing longer, less affordable leases.

A city report published Wednesday recommends restricting short-term rentals such as Airbnb to primary residences, limiting hosts to listing a single property and effectively banning the rental of investment properties.

George Mota, a policy consultant and landlord, said he was planning to rent out part of a duplex he owns in the city's Meadowlands neighbourhood to students on eight-month leases, matching the school term.

But Mota said the proposed rules would force him into a corner when it comes to finding renters for the other four months.

"If I don't have a backup plan to offer short-term rentals to fill those gaps in a shorter lease, unfortunately students are going to be stuck with a 12-month lease," he said. "They're going to be paying for the summer months when they're not using the apartment."

Mota believes the proposed changes are not only "draconian," but won't achieve the desired goal.

"I don't think you're going to see ... a very significant improvement in flipping from short-term rental to long-term rental as a result of these proposals," he said.

He does support the idea of a special enforcement unit to crack down on problem properties, including so-called party houses.

Rising rents

According to the city, short-term rentals like Airbnb actually contribute to rising rental rates by reducing overall vacancy. The report projects short-term rentals could account for 1.85 per cent of the city's rental stock by 2031, and that could result in annual rent increases of five per cent.

In recent years, rents have been going up by about three per cent.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury said he doesn't think it should be up to the city to accommodate property owners' business plans, whether they concern student housing or not.

"I don't know that that's the city's responsibility. For us, we want to see long-term rental vacancies, long-term rental units being back into the market," Fleury said.