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Halifax council defers short-term rental decision

Click to play video: 'Halifax council to gather information on regulating short term rentals'
Halifax council to gather information on regulating short term rentals
WATCH: A move by Halifax Regional Council to regulate short term rentals in the city is being seen as a positive step forward by some people. Council held a lengthy discussion about it this week and ultimately decided to defer the matter until the spring while it gathers more information. Megan King has that story – Dec 15, 2022

A move by Halifax Regional Council to regulate short-term rentals in the city is being seen as a positive step forward by some people, and a “waste of time” by others.

Council held a lengthy discussion about it this week and ultimately decided to defer the matter until the spring, while it gathers more information.

“It’s just unacceptable,” says north-end resident Bill Stewart. He is a member of the Neighbours Speak Up community group that has been pushing for short-term rental regulation for almost four years now.

“For them to spend months and months trying to find data that is not going to change the picture any is a real waste of time,” Stewart continues.

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Council and city staff have been working on proposed amendments to short-term rental regulations since 2020, that would restrict where the units would be permitted.

Click to play video: 'The problem with short term rental properties in N.S.'
The problem with short term rental properties in N.S.

“If it’s your house, you can rent it out. But if it’s a unit you own but aren’t living in, then you wouldn’t be allowed to,” explains Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) Deputy Mayor Sam Austin.

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Austin says he’s disappointed by the delay in voting on the recommendation but says another few months isn’t the end of the world.

“The idea that you can basically take an apartment building and just make it into a hotel when it’s in a residential zone, without commercial zoning or commercial taxing or any of that kind of thing,” says Austin, “I mean, that’s never made any sense to me.

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According to Stewart, there are about 1,900 short-term rentals presently being advertised in HRM that are not primary residences — properties that could help with the ongoing housing shortage.

“I’m very concerned that some of these new buildings and structures we’re seeing are going to be sitting ducks for short-term rentals when things aren’t going so well for the property owners,” says Stewart.

For now, any new regulations will have to wait until city staff provide an updated information report in April.

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