Airbnb on the radar

The Compass - - Editorial -

Pick a week in late Septem­ber, and you can have your choice of 306 Airbnb rentals in the North­east Avalon area in and around St. John’s. And those are just the places with avail­able va­can­cies that week; as Airbnb points out, “only 40 per cent of homes are avail­able for your travel dates.”

You can pick a “Brand new mi­cro-apart­ment in the heart of St. John’s. Lo­ca­tion is less than a 10 minute walk to his­toric down­town, as well as Ge­orge Street nightlife. Only slightly over 2 km to the Univer­sity” for $75 a night.

Or maybe a “beau­ti­ful three-bed­room her­itage town­house on Jelly­bean Row ... nes­tled in the heart of the city, this is the per­fect lo­ca­tion for your stay in St. John’s,” at $95 a night. It’s a stone’s throw away from one of the city’s larger ho­tels, the Sher­a­ton, where the rate for that week is $179 a night for a sin­gle night, $219 with all taxes and fees.

There are more ev­ery day: “A beau­ti­ful St. John’s condo in a great lo­ca­tion,” $75 a night, only went up on the short-term ren­tal site in July. An en­tire home near the city, $69 a night, started be­ing an Airbnb ren­tal in June. Many of the op­tions are for homes, apart­ments and rooms that have only come into the Airbnb sys­tem in 2018.

Is it any won­der that the ac­com­mo­da­tions in­dus­try, Hospi­tal­ity New­found­land and Labrador (HNL) and even the City of St. John’s are con­cerned?

Ear­lier this month, HNL put out a po­si­tion pa­per on short-term rentals, with Hospi­tal­ity NL chair Larry Laite say­ing, “(The) short-term ren­tal in­dus­try cur­rently op­er­ates with lim­ited reg­u­la­tion and there is an acute need for fed­eral, provin­cial and mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments to put in place a mod­ern reg­u­la­tory frame­work that will ad­dress such un­in­tended con­se­quences as lost taxes and less avail­able hous­ing, as well as pro­mote fair­ness and pro­tect com­mu­ni­ties.”

Last Mon­day, the City of St. John’s joined in that con­cern, is­su­ing a state­ment say­ing, “On­line plat­forms such as Airbnb are here to stay; they pro­vide an im­por­tant eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity for prop­erty own­ers, and an op­tion for trav­ellers.

It is clear that a mod­ern reg­u­la­tory sys­tem is re­quired.”

The city also has a fi­nan­cial in­ter­est: “We are par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the col­lec­tion of the city’s tourism mar­ket­ing levy...” The city says it’s los­ing $250,000 a year on un­col­lected levies, money the city uses to pay for tourism mar­ket­ing and to fi­nance the con­ven­tion cen­tre.

The ar­gu­ment is pretty clear: if Airbnb land­lords are benefiting fi­nan­cially from the city’s re­sources, they should have to help pay for those re­sources.

The sought-for reg­u­la­tion is in the hands of the prov­ince. Two other prov­inces, Que­bec and Bri­tish Columbia, have al­ready struck tax deals.

Read­ing the tea leaves? Reg­u­la­tion is prob­a­bly al­ready on the way.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.