Canada’s government is examining new measures to rein in short-term rental services such as Airbnb Inc. as policymakers try to cool inflation in apartment and house rents.
(Bloomberg) — Canada’s government is examining new measures to rein in short-term rental services such as Airbnb Inc. as policymakers try to cool inflation in apartment and house rents.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday the government is looking at what laws or regulations it can bring in to curb the use of platforms that offer rented accommodation for a few days or weeks at a time. She heaped praise on the province of British Columbia, which this week introduced a proposed law to restrict many residents from renting their investment properties on Airbnb, Flipkey and similar services.
“We know that short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb and VRBO mean fewer homes for Canadians to rent, especially in urban and populated areas of our country,” Freeland said during a press conference in Ottawa. She said she has seen estimates that as many as 30,000 more homes could be made available for rent in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, if those platforms were restricted. “It is so important that we are examining whether there are any tools in federal jurisdiction that we could use that would make a difference in this space.”
Airbnb said more housing supply is needed, but disputed the idea that short-term rentals are a major contributor to the current shortages. The San Francisco-based company criticized the proposed BC law, saying it would “take money out of the pockets of British Columbians, make travel more unaffordable for millions of residents who travel within BC, and reduce tourism spending in communities where hosts are often the only providers of local accommodations,” according to a written statement attributed to Alex Howell, its policy manager for Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s popularity has been battered as Canadians deal with a prolonged bout of hot inflation. Freeland, who’s also the deputy prime minister, spoke about affordability on the same day Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index was up 3.8% on an annual basis in September — less than August’s 4% rate.
Rents rose 7.3% nationally and 8.4% in British Columbia, which includes Vancouver, one of the country’s most expensive housing markets.
Freeland did not outline any immediate changes the federal government would make on short-term rentals but said, “If other provinces want to follow BC’s lead, that would be great as well.”
The British Columbia law won’t apply to certain resort areas or to municipalities with fewer than 10,000 people.
(Updates with Airbnb comments beginning in fourth paragraph and further information from Freeland’s news conference beginning in sixth paragraphs.)
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