District of North Vancouver councilor Lisa Muri was browsing through rental listings on Craigslist recently when she noticed an anomaly for the North Shore region — an abundance of available rentals.
Since she is interested in issues related to housing, Muri occasionally browses the web to see what is available for rentals in the area.
Last month, she noticed a striking number.
There were close to 1,000 units available for rent in the North Shore area, a stark contrast to less than 100 rental units she saw were available on Craigslist last summer.
“I do recall a small number of units last year, and it was certainly less than 100 units. I also know that the some units had been advertised multiple times there so the number would have been even less,” she said.
The big gap in numbers is surprising, but this could be the ripple effect of COVID-19, she says.
“There is certainly a significant number of units here now, and a lot of them are furnished, and that tells me that a lot of those units would have been part of the short-term rental market,” she says.
Although Muri didn’t research available rentals on other web platforms or on Facebook, she says the gap in numbers points to short-term Airbnb units moving to long-term rentals.
This shift is also happening back east.
According to a report by real estate firm Zoocasa, condos that were listed on Airbnb before the pandemic seem to be now moving to long-term rentals in Toronto.
“If you are a renter looking to move to the downtown area, now is the best time to take the leap if you can,” Zoocasa agent Andrew Kim told Canadian Press.
Zoocasa found that there were 83 per cent more condos available for rent in June 2020 compared to June of last year.
Rentals were also 257% higher over the year in 10 buildings in Toronto in areas that are popular with Airbnb visitors.
A similar trend is shaping up in other parts of Canada.
For Councilor Muri, the Craigslist numbers are an indication that there is a high number of units available for rentals despite a widespread impression that there is lack of rentals on North Shore.
The need, she says, is to create a balance between short-term and long-term rentals in a way that can accommodate both tourists and long-term tenants.
Muri says the comparison has provided her a certain framework to approach the topic within the district.
Short-term rentals are not allowed in the district as of now, but she would like DNV to look at the City of Vancouver, where rooms in primary residences are allowed for short-term rentals, but the owners also have the freedom to rent basement suites to long-term tenants.
“You can accommodate short-term rental and long-term rental on the same property. I would look at that in the district because living here is quite unaffordable and we need to be able to accommodate tourism as well as long-term rentals,” she says.
“We do have a significant number of rentals in the community. We just need to find the middle ground now,” she adds.