The province’s housing minister was pressed Thursday on specifics for whether the province would be pursuing regulations of short-term rentals posted on sites like Airbnb.
Charlottetown-Belvedere MLA Hannah Bell said she had attended a consultation held on Wednesday evening at the Confederation Centre on the subject of short-term rentals. At the meeting, several residents pressed members of Charlottetown city council on the issue of short-term rentals regulation.
During question period on Thursday afternoon, Bell asked Social Development and Housing Minister Ernie Hudson if he had specific plans to regulate short-term rentals. He also suggested the rental shortage in P.E.I. is a “crisis".
“What kind of regulation do you think is appropriate for short-term rentals?” Bell asked the minister.
Hudson acknowledged that regulations “most likely do need to be put in place,” but he did not suggest specific regulations. Other jurisdictions have put in place taxation regimes for homeowners advertising on online platforms, the proceeds of which would either fund tourism programs or housing programs.
Hudson also said his department had been focusing on consulting with municipalities, housing activists and tenants and added that, in his opinion, one family without access to adequate housing would constitute a crisis.
“I would much prefer to collaborate as to dictate what should happen,” Hudson said.
Bell again asked if Hudson would commit to specific regulation of short-term rentals. She suggested the province enter into an agreement with platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO to obtain specific data on Charlottetown-based residents who were using the platform to advertise units for rent.
“The time for discussion and consultation is well passed,” Bell said.
In response, Hudson said his department is working collaboratively to look at solutions to the housing shortage on P.E.I.
The city of Charlottetown currently has a rental vacancy rate of 0.2 per cent, while the Island has an overall vacancy rate of 0.3 per cent. While the low vacancy rates stem largely from the lack of rental housing being built by developers, housing advocates have been highly vocal in suggesting that hundreds of units are being removed from the rental market in order to rent out to tourists on short-term rental sites.