Monday, July 22, 2019

Short-term rental properties on the rise in Saskatchewan

The short-term rental market is heating up in Saskatchewan as the home sharing trend grows, but some say regulations are necessary.

Several websites offer short-term housing rentals. Airbnb’s online marketplace has emerged as the more popular option to connect homeowners and travellers.

Saskatchewan Hotels and Hospitality Association president Jim Bence says Airbnb is one of the biggest threats to his industry.

“They’ve been eating our lunch for awhile now. They’ve been incredibly creative and adaptive, adjusting themselves into the process and creating in the consumer’s market a need for their services,” he says of Airbnb’s online platform. He calls the homes listed on the hospitality website “illegal hotels.”

Bence is concerned that without regulations and enforcement, Saskatoon and Regina will follow in the footsteps of larger centres like Vancouver and Toronto. In those cities, companies commonly buy properties to use as short-term rentals, often without obtaining business licenses or following the same safety standards as hotels. The practice can also reduce the amount of housing available for local residents.

The City of Saskatoon and the City of Regina are in the preliminary stages of a review process to determine new regulations to suit the growing short-term rental market, and to ensure zoning bylaws fit contemporary conditions.

In an emailed statement, Airbnb spokesman Alex Dagg said the company is committed to working with Saskatchewan communities to develop smart, easy-to-follow regulations, just as it has been in other Canadian cities.

On its site, Airbnb states that homeowners are responsible for checking local bylaws and ensuring their places are insured, taxes are paid, and that a business licence is obtained if necessary.

“Saskatchewan is the home of many responsible Airbnb hosts who share their homes a few nights each month in order to make ends meet,” Dagg said. “Responsible home sharing strengthens neighbourhoods and generates meaningful economic impact for the province and our hosts.”

Keep reading in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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