October 17, 2010
Short Term Vacation Rentals
There are a couple of really good things about Short Term Vacation Rentals and a couple of not-so-great things. The good things are a little extra cash for some hard-working islanders and the number of tourists which they draw to the island. These tourists pay for their housing and then buy stuff while they're here and contribute to the local economy. The not-so-great parts are the tendency to rob neighbourhoods of their vitality and the pressure they put on the already short supply of longer-term rental housing.
It is easy to see why homeowners would prefer short-term rentals over longer-term. A residence which draws $1500 per month year-round may instead rent for as much as $5000 per week during the summer and other holidays. Unfortunately, it is common for people who don't even live here to buy a house and rent it out as a short-term vacation rental without contributing much to the local community or economy themselves.
The result of all this fast cash making is entire neighbourhoods in which only one out every five homes is lived in on a long-term basis. This causes a chilling effect: empty windows, little community participation and no familiar faces on your daily walk to the mail box. It also, of course, creates a higher demand for the fewer remaining long-term rentals, leaving us poor island folks to scrabble hard for a decent place to live.
And in case you're thinking that your neighbour's problems are not your own, remember that many local service providers are renters. Firefighters, waitresses, nurses, grocery store clerks, school teachers, actors and especially young families all need rental housing and they don't need to pay an arm and a leg for it. They also don't need to get kicked out in the summer.
Keeping a fair balance between individual rights and freedoms (especially for those who own land) and the overall health of the community is the challenge. Nobody wants to be told what they can and can't do, yet for the good of us all, some really tempting things should not be done, or only done a little. Remember, no 'man' is an island, especially when you live on one. Each of our decisions impacts others and the environment and since quality of life is so much more than having enough money, we all need to take care.