Municipal government

Airbnb hosts and spinoffs fear impending red tape for Ottawa municipal government


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Alexander Yeuchyk fears that the town hall is on the verge of erasing its rental income from the homes he advertises on Airbnb.

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“I’ve never been so frustrated in my life,” Yeuchyk said Monday from a house in the Lower Town as he took a break from renovating a fifth home he wants to make available on the platform. rental online.

“I lost sleep. I feel very, very insecure. Honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Yeuchyk invested in units when there were few municipal regulations on short term rental housing, but now his business is becoming financially risky.

On Monday, city staff were putting the finishing touches on a report that will include recommendations on how to regulate the short-term accommodation industry in Ottawa. The Community and Protective Services Committee will devote one meeting to discuss the report before voting and sending recommendations to council. The committee meeting on November 15 will invite public deputations.

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One of the options available to the city is to prohibit landowners in residential areas from making their properties available to short-term tenants, unless the landowners actually live in the houses. It would have a huge impact on people like Yeuchyk who bought houses as income properties.

A consultant hired by the city to help with a study told staff they should factor the restriction into their recommendations to council.

Com. Keith Egli, vice chairman of the community and protective services committee, said he wanted the city to “tighten up” regulations on short-term rentals. If the city only allowed short-term rentals in owner-occupied homes, then those landlords “would be in the game” and have more control over tenant customers, Egli said.

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Supporters of a strong regulatory system also hope that more units would be available for long-term rentals and make homes more affordable. The vacancy rate in Ottawa in 2018 was 1.6%.

Data collected by the city and its consultants shows that there were 6,278 short-term units in Ottawa in 2018, and 1,236 of those units were in entire residences for 120 days or more in the year.

Airbnb is the most cited short-term accommodation platform due to its immense popularity. Like hotels in the Ottawa area, Airbnb pays a municipal lodging tax. However, there are other web services that also promote short term rentals and facilitate transactions between owners and guests.

Yeuchyk said he preferred to rent out his properties on a short-term basis because he had more control over who was in his units. From his experience, he believes that people who commit to a long-term lease are not as responsible as those who seek short-term stays. He said he has a good relationship with the neighbors of his rental units and does not see himself as an absent landowner, since he visits the properties every day. He doesn’t think horror stories involving short-term rentals, like those involved in out-of-control parties, should prompt the city to crack down on decent hosts.

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If the city prohibits landowners from offering short-term rentals in homes they don’t occupy, it would eliminate a large number of responsible landlords who pride themselves on finding the most suitable clients, Yeuchyk said.

“They are going to eradicate a group of hosts who have the experience,” Yeuchyk said.

Scott Clement, co-founder of Breathebnb Vacation Rental Management, said strict regulations could have a “huge effect” on hosts and property managers.

About 90 percent of the nearly 100 properties managed by Breathebnb are owner-occupied, Clement said. About three-quarters of the properties in the company’s portfolio are in Ottawa, he said.

Clement believes the city still does not have enough data to impose new regulations on the short-term accommodation industry, especially when it comes to how many short-term rentals would actually convert to short-term rentals. long term.

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The city should also not neglect the jobs created by short-term housing, said Clement. His company has 40 housekeeping staff, including new refugees and people with disabilities.

There are other cleaning services that market directly to Airbnb hosts, like Delit-Z Airbnb, which has been owned by Olga Hedz for two years.

Hedz estimated that she makes 90% of her cleaning business’s income from Airbnb hosts. She has 10 clients who require her cleaning services daily.

“It’s important and it’s my main income,” Hedz said.

Back in Lower Town, Yeuchyk said he was renovating an 1864 house in hopes of providing a unique experience for visitors to Ottawa. He has researched past owners and intends to make a history book to educate tenants about the property and the community.

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Now he’s wondering if his rental properties will have to become available for long-term tenants, rather than fast-turning clients he’d prefer to do business with.

“I am someone who put the time and everything I had into this opportunity,” Yeuchyk said.

“It’s not very lucrative, but it allows you to live.

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