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A Comparative Analysis of Short-Term Rental Regulations in Six Alberta Municipalities

Petit, Gillian and Cameron, Anna and Khanal, Mukesh and Tedds, Lindsay M. (2022): A Comparative Analysis of Short-Term Rental Regulations in Six Alberta Municipalities.

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Abstract

Once limited and relatively unknown, Alberta’s short-term rental (STR) market has, in the past five years, become a frequent discussion topic in news media and municipal council chambers alike. Facilitated by the arrival of online platforms, such as Airbnb, the now-thriving STR market is viewed as an economic boon by some, but has also stoked longstanding debates about housing access and resident liveability, provoking newer complaints of anti-competitive behaviour, as well as general calls for regulatory intervention. In the context of limited research on Alberta’s STR market (and its regulation), this paper presents a comprehensive overview and analysis of regulatory frameworks for STR activity in six Alberta municipalities, alongside an assessment of pertinent provincial measures. The aim of the review is two-fold: (1) to gain an understanding of the nature and extent of regulatory efforts across a range of local contexts that, together, constitute a representative picture of the overall market in the province; and (2) to ascertain the extent to which these approaches are both effective and appropriate, based on what can be discerned about local context, market dynamics, policy objectives, and current and emerging issues. We argue that while some jurisdictions appear to have fared better in implementing generally appropriate and effective measures, all local authorities, in addition to the province, have considerable room to improve their framework. We draw particular attention to ensuring regulations are developed in response to local issues, reflect the actual and projected state of the market, contain clear and measurable objectives aligned with broader community strategies, and invite ways for local authorities to leverage the power, insights, and resources of platforms.

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