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No short-term solution in sight

lance goosen cartoon

(Cartoon by Lance Goosen)

For travellers across the world, short-term rental companies such as AirBnb have been a godsend.

Instead of paying high prices for a hotel room, they now have the option of renting out a room, a spacious condo or even an entire house for a more economic price.

While Oshawa is nowhere near Toronto when it comes to the proliferation of short-term rentals, the amount of options in the city is growing.

It’s incredibly difficult to argue with the attractiveness of short-term rentals for homeowners.

Instead of charging $1,200 a month to one tenant, they can rent out a section of their home for $100 a night.

But it isn’t a cut and dry issue.

With the recent killings of three young men in Toronto during a party at a condo rented out through Airbnb, as well as other high-profile incidents, it’s apparent there are issues which need to be addressed.

The number of complaints regarding short-term rentals in Oshawa rose from a single call to 19 in 2019, but it’s fair to anticipate this trend will continue upwards.

Since 2018, city staff have been working on a potential licensing system for homeowners who want to use their residence for short-term rentals.

When the plan was presented to the city’s corporate services committee, it was clear there are still kinks which need to be worked out.

While it is a good step to set some rules in place for short-term rentals, as pointed out by Mayor Dan Carter, it remains to be seen if a large global company such as Airbnb is willing to play by those rules.

For years, ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have operated in the City of Oshawa even though they are technically illegal.

And while short-term rentals don’t represent the exact same situation, there are some parallels.

Hotels and motels, which have suffered because of short-term rentals, pay property taxes to the region and the city, whereas, Airbnb doesn’t.

While people staying in both short-term rentals and traditional locations such as hotels spend money in the community when visiting, it seems unfair one side is expected to pay the cost of doing business here and the other isn’t.

Beyond this, several councillors have noted problems with so-called “party houses” rented out for short amounts of time.

While these aren’t only in Oshawa, late night drinking and loud music isn’t something taxpaying citizens should be expected to endure.