The City of Hamilton has hit pause on enforcing its short-term rental tires.
The new bylaw was supposed to go into effect Thursday, which would’ve made it illegal for property owners to rent out homes for less than 28 consecutive days on sites like Airbnb if they don’t actually live there.
The Council passed the bylaw in January to discourage people from buying investment properties for short-term rentals, in the hopes it would add hundreds of units back onto the long-term rental market.
But in a message posted to Twitter Wednesday, the city said the bylaw was paused due to “a council shift in priorities” and that the bylaw would be revisited later in the year.
The City of Hamilton’s Short-term Rental program is currently paused due to a Council shift in priorities and will be reviewed later in 2023. At this time, there are no licensing requirements. For more information: https://t.co/v5Km5BOHE8
The council hasn’t turned its focus away from the housing affordability crisis, said Coun. Alex Wilson (Ward 13) in an interview with CBC Hamilton. Instead, the city is facing a staff resource crunch and needs to “triage” some housing initiatives over others.
“Unfortunately we can’t do everything all at once,” Wilson said.
Halting renovations a top priority
A top priority is to stop renovations, Wilson said. That’s when landlords evict tenants to renovate units and list the units at a much higher rent price.
The previous council had requested staff to develop a renovation bylaw to ban the practice. Last month, the staff came back with a report that instead dismissed the idea.
The Council has since told them to go back a second time and develop a “full suite of options to halt renovations within the city,” according to a staff update released in May. This enforcement program will take precedence over the short-term rental bylaw.
“We literally don’t have enough staff because staff didn’t do their assignments,” Coun. Nrinder Nann (Ward 3) told CBC Hamilton.
Wilson said the housing crisis is getting worse because the province lifted rent control for newer units built after Nov. 15, 2018 and doesn’t have any rules in place for how much landlords can increase rent between tenants.
“Why do we have to focus on renovations? Because the province hasn’t and is pouring gasoline on the fire instead,” said Wilson.