Short-term rentals are suffering another blow this month as Ontario and Quebec have prohibited hosts from offering properties to travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario’s order provides that short-term listings booked after April 4th are limited only to those “who are in need of housing during the emergency period.”
In response, Airbnb is encouraging listings for health care providers or others who need to self-isolate, as well as monthly or longer-term rentals.
For some, this is a welcome move. Opponents of short-term rentals in multifamily buildings have long complained about rowdy parties and strangers having access to common areas. Now, some residents are horrified to find people infected by COVID-19 holed up in the apartment across the hall.
However, many property owners support short-term rentals, including those who purchased properties solely for that purpose. For them, these temporary moratoriums might pose a risk. The more short-term listings that go to longer terms, the more likely the restrictions will become permanent.
While proponents like Airbnb and its hosts deny it, local and provincial governments believe that short-term rental listings are pulling from long-term rental inventory, exacerbating the shortage of affordable rental housing. With more renters in the market than in earlier years and fewer of them converting to homeownership, some cities are seeing record-low vacancy rates.
Up until now, there has been inconclusive evidence that Airbnb hosts were contributing significantly to this problem. But if more short-term listings convert to longer term, and that trend continues long enough to trigger an increase in the annual vacancy rate or slow rent increases, that could be proof in the making.
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