Vancouver aims to curb short-term house rentals in pricey market

Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:32pm EDT
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By Nicole Mordant

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Vancouver unveiled further steps on Wednesday aimed at easing a housing affordability and availability crisis, two days after a report warned that the West Coast Canadian city was the world's most at risk for a housing bubble.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said Vancouver plans to restrict short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, to primary homes - a move aimed at increasing the availability of long-term rentals for residents.

Vancouver has already announced plans to tax vacant houses by the year-end, increasing costs for foreign owners who have helped make it Canada's most expensive property market.

"Housing is first and foremost about homes and not about operating businesses particularly at a time like this when affordability and rentals and housing is at a real crisis point," Robertson told reporters.

He estimated that the move could add about 1,000 homes to the long-term rental market. The city is proposing a new license to allow short-term rentals in principal homes.

Swiss bank UBS said this week that Vancouver topped its real estate bubble index in 2016, ahead of London, Stockholm, Sydney, Munich and Hong Kong.

"House prices in Vancouver seem clearly out of step with economic fundamentals, and are in bubble risk territory," UBS said in the Sept. 26 report.

Last month the province of British Columbia, which includes Vancouver, imposed a 15 percent property transfer tax on foreign real estate buyers, cooling some parts of the market.   Continued...

A real estate for sale sign is pictured in front of a home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ben Nelms