From, Realtor Terry Black
This article represents a brief pause in the series about Secondary Suite Pros and Cons.
February 21st HRM Council amended HRM land use by-laws city wide. The changes pertain to short term rentals and take effect September 1, 2023. This is a major change in legal use of property used for housing including use of Secondary Suites.
Starting September 1st housing can be rented for less than 28 days only if the owner resides at the property. Council stated they will review whether residing at the property means that only housing that is under the shared roof of the owner can be rented short term (i.e., some backyard suites or cottages on the resident owners’ lot could be exempt).
Short term rentals are those that rented for 28 days or less. STR’s as HRM refers to them generated an estimated $49 million dollars in revenue into the HRM economy in 2022. To remove this revenue will have a significant effect upon people’s lives and our economy. The stated goal by HRM Council was to make housing that was rented short term available for people needing housing long term.
It is estimated HRM population grew 20,000 people in 2022. The stated goal of the city is 550,000 in population by 2031 and we are presently at 480,000. It seems that we will likely reach 550,000 sooner than 2031.
I searched the AirBnB website, the largest online platform for booking short term housing. It indicates that there are 622 places HRM wide to book for 2 people maximum for 1 week in April 2023. 90% of these are not in homes where the owners live. No doubt there will be many more places to rent in the summer months, but these could hardly be considered available for long term rental as many are occupied by students 8-9 months of the year.
I assume this sample could be accurate across all dates. If so when Short Term Rentals not managed by resident owners are illegal and removed from availability September 1st that means 560 rental accommodations would then become available for long term rental. That is if every rental is converted to long term use. Not all will.
If we need enough housing to accommodate the influx of new people to HRM to reach the stated HRM goal of 550,000 people by 2031 I guess that we can expect maybe 8,000-10,000 new residents annually till, then. HRM Council expect a one-time removal of Short-Term housing availability of 560 places to rent will make a significant supply of long term housing. It won’t.
There will be a new 2-month housing supply available for longer term rental. The new places available will represent about 15% of the rental places needed in 2023 alone…. and $49 million dollars annually will no longer available to the municipality to tax. That money will have to be found elsewhere.
As these short-term rental places were owned by business minded people so don’t expect they will become available for low-income housing.
Obviously, the province and HRM need to invest a lot more heavily into creating housing unless more people are going to be living in tents.
Regardless of what we individually think about this land use bylaw change it may be helpful if you are considering adding a Secondary Suite to review these changes in more detail. HRM produced information can be read online. If you are considering adding a rental residence at your property you will want to be informed. There will be considerable time and financial expense to build it. You would want to know how it can be rented and what the impact of these recent changes may have for your decisions.
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