Two weeks after the province announced sweeping changes to short-term rental rules, a Victoria homeowner says he’s unintentional, collateral damage.
Zoltan Szoges’ condo building in Victoria was previously “grandfathered in” to allow short-term rentals. He wasn’t using it that way but still is being penalized.
“I just don’t support taking people’s land rights away from them when there are direct financial consequences for it when they’re not the people who did the thing that you’re trying to crack down on,” said Szoges.
Szoges lives in a Victoria building called The Janion. It was built as a hotel in 1891, and as such, prior to the new provincial rules, the building had been “grandfathered in” to allow short-term rentals.
Buyers like Szoges say they paid a premium for the buildings’ flexible land use, and the sudden limitations mean he and the other owners are facing an immediate loss in value, regardless of how they were using it.
“Now we’re leaving and we would like to recoup that premium we paid but we can’t because that usage has been taken away,” said Szoges.
After two-and-a-half years of living in the micro-loft, Szoges says he and his partner have outgrown the space. Two weeks before the province announced its new short-term rental regulations, they put it up for sale.
“As soon as the bill was announced we had cancellations of showings. None of the six people who came to see our unit in the first two weeks are at all interested they’ve walked away. Every single person who was looking at our unit was looking at it for short-term investment,” said Szoges.
“So we’ve dropped our price by $50,000 and that’s not $50,000 in profit. At this point, dropping our price by that much, it would have been cheaper to remain renters two-and-a-half years ago.”
At the time of publishing, on realtor.ca The Janion has a total of seven units up for sale. Two listings have gone up in just the past four days. CHEK News found one other unit recently listed as a long-term rental on Facebook Marketplace.
Realtors say it will be difficult days ahead for condo sellers, especially those with small spaces at a time of relatively high-interest rates.
“Any time you have a change in use for the property, you have a change in use for the buyer. Right, so maybe you’ve lost out on the investor buyers. But the buyers that may appeal to this type of property are first-time homebuyers,” said Graden Sol, chair of the Victoria Real Estate Board.
“Now unfortunately in the market right now we have relatively high interest rates, and that makes it a lot harder to enter the market.”
“Housing is a long-term market. In housing, you want to keep your property for as long as possible. If the seller bought in the last two years it’s very difficult to recoup those costs.”
In principle, Szoges says he supports what the province is trying to do: get people into homes, but after losing what he says is a “sizable portion” of his down payment, he thinks he and others living in the 1,600 non-conforming units in Victoria, should be compensated.
Szoges has written to the Minister of Housing and his MLA asking for owners of non-conforming units either to be allowed to continue the usage of their unit but make it non-transferrable, or be given 10 per cent cash buyout on the value of their unit.
“Because that is what that usage was worth, even though not everyone was doing that usage. So essentially I’m subsidizing this bill because I’m living in this building,” said Szoges.