Under pressure to add more housing supply, officials say they’re looking at ways to decrease the number of short-term rentals in the country.

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Canada is targeting Airbnb and other short-term rental companies with tax changes that are aimed directly at decreasing the number of nightly rentals in favor of long-term housing options.

The proposal comes at a time when the country is considering a variety of options that both target the supply of short-term rentals and increase the supply of new and existing homes for sale and for rent.

It’s the latest and largest jurisdiction to set its sights on short-term rentals in the face of high housing prices, and Canadian Housing Minister Sean Fraser said the country had its eye on a large number of homes.

“We believe there is likely tens of thousands of homes that could be made available to Canadians by addressing this particular challenge,” Fraser said. 

Details about the proposal are set to be released Tuesday afternoon, so it’s not clear how sweeping the new national regulation will be.

A representative for Airbnb said the company would respond after seeing the details of the proposed changes.

Fraser added that the country was looking to boost supply through increasing the pace of construction.

A September report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation found that the country needs to add an additional 3.5 million homes in addition to what’s already under construction, the Toronto Star reported.

The concept of the country actively working to decrease the number of short-term rentals is a blow to Airbnb at a time when the company is overtly seeking to grab travel share from the hotel industry. Indeed, Fraser suggested travelers could stay in hotels if short-term rental supply decreased.

“If there’s tens of thousands of units we can turn into not a competitor for a hotel for a few nights but a home for a family and a community, it’s incumbent on us to do everything we can to use the properties that are available for homes,” Fraser said.

Many Canadian cities and towns already have restrictions and regulations in place, including limiting the number of listings or requiring hosts to share their space with travelers.

According to the Star, the updates will also help cities and towns across the country enforce any regulations and restrictions they might have on the short-term rental industry.

The proposal up north is among a string of constant pressures for companies like Airbnb, which face ongoing changes in regulations across the world. 

The most significant recent change occurred in New York City, where tens of thousands of short-term rental listings in New York City — most of them listed on Airbnb — became illegal after Labor Day as a result of a crackdown on short-term rentals in the Big Apple.

Other towns have considered paying property owners to not turn their housing into short-term rentals and to instead rent their homes out long-term. 

Email Taylor Anderson

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