EDITORIAL: City of Victoria aims to protect greater good with STR policy

Creating rules to regulate use of extra space by those with that luxury is a natural step

The short-term rental industry has been unregulated on a municipal basis up until now in the City of Victoria.

With such companies as Airbnb and other sites providing relatively easy access to a lucrative short-term rental market to owners with a spare room or separated suite in their home, or those with a condo that is not their primary residence, it’s no surprise that numerous people in Victoria, Esquimalt and the rest of the Capital Region have jumped on board.

Like any new form of business, it takes a while for administrators to fully realize what effects it might be having on other areas of society, which is what the City of Victoria is trying to get hold of now.

Without a doubt, the timing of the emergence of the short-term rental industry in the city couldn’t be worse from a housing perspective. It has coincided with a rental vacancy shortage, despite the construction of hundreds of new units in recent years.

Cities like Victoria are starting to look at the effect removing suites within homes and condo units from the long-term rental stock has on its population.

While the rules for properties within the recently established “transient accommodation zone” are still being hammered out – business licensing fees among them – the framework for properties outside that zone where many STRs are operating has yet to be decided by council.

Some might call property owners’ moves toward the potentially more lucrative short-term rental market a shrewd investment decision. Those not fortunate enough to have extra space to rent might see it as a money grab that contributes to higher overall rents.

Protecting the greater good has always been the purview of municipal governments, so no one should be surprised that the City of Victoria is moving to regulate what it sees as a threat to the affordability of housing in the city.

We would expect no less of them, even if it means forcing some of the people who got on the STR bandwagon to settle for the traditional monthly rentals to generate revenue.

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