A couple who run an Airbnb in Chemainus, B.C., say newly-introduced legislation limiting short-term rentals will hurt them financially, but they hope it will help people struggling to find long-term housing.
Wyatt Dahl and Brett Mason currently operate two Airbnb listings out of their property in the Vancouver Island community. One listing is a suite within their house while the other is a small cabin built in the past year.
However, the province's new rules prohibit having more than one short-term rental (STR) per property, and prohibit them in residences in which the owners do not live.
That will mean the Dahls will have to stop renting out their cabin, which Mason primarily uses as his home office during the week.
"Financially, this is actually a big hit for us," Mason told CBC News. "We just built this tiny cabin earlier this year with the understanding that it would be an office and an Airbnb.
"Obviously we're not going to recoup all those funds by only having it open less than one year."
Brett Mason, seen here hanging curtains on the cabin being rented out as an Airbnb, said that finding affordable rentals in B.C. is extremely hard. (Submitted by Wyatt Dahl and Brett Mason)
However, the B.C. couple say they're understanding of the province's intent behind the legislation, which has been billed as a way to return long-term housing stock to the market amid a rental crisis.
"You need to get creative to get by and put the needs of everyone over the needs of just a few," Mason said. "For us, this will probably mean needing to work a lot more and having to get creative with income."
The province has stated that the top 10 per cent of Airbnb hosts in B.C. earn nearly 50 per cent of STR revenue — something the company denies.
Some STR operators have said that the new regulations are punitive, especially for hosts who have followed zoning rules and paid for the necessary licences. Others have said they are even mulling a court challenge to the legislation.
"At the end of the day, helping other people get to have a long-term rental, I think, is better than owning multiple homes," Dahl said. "Because you just need one roof over your head."
Devil in the details: advocate
Rohana Rezel, a Vancouver-based housing advocate who tracks vacation rental listings, said he's seen a range of reactions from STR operators since the legislation was announced last week.
He said many operators renting out their homes have had to compete with others who list dozens of properties at once, likening the latter listings to "illegal hotels."
"Now, the people who operate within the law have a chance to make more money because they're not competing with illegal operators," he said.
Rezel says he was broadly welcoming of the province's legislation, especially the proposed registry of STR owners and their business licences, as well as increased fines for violations.
The advocate said he hopes the new legislation allows the province to hold platforms like Airbnb and VRBO accountable, instead of merely going after rule-breaking STR owners.
He added that, if Airbnb decides to challenge the province's rules, the platform has not been successful with similar legislative challenges in the past across the U.S. and Europe.
Vancouver housing advocate Rohana Rezel says that the province should use the legislation to hold platforms like Airbnb to account, instead of going after individual STR operators. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
However, Rezel says he still has concerns over the new regulations, including the fact they allow laneway homes to be rented out as STRs, when they were originally billed as long-term rentals.
"We have to keep a close eye on the regulations that come after the legislation," he said. "That's what's going to determine if this is going to be very positive news for renters, or is this going to be, like someone described, a 'nothingburger' with weak sauce?"