Saanich landlord considers converting 1-bedroom basement suite to short-term rental

Saanich landlord considers converting 1-bedroom basement suite to short-term rental

A Saanich couple that’s been renting out their basement suite to a long-term tenant for nearly two decades says because of new legislation that allows them to rent it out short-term, they’re now thinking of converting the space to cover increased mortgage costs and creeping taxes.

“We’re what we call, reluctant landlords. I would love to never be a landlord,” said Aaron Macri.

Macri says he needed to convert the basement of his detached home to be able to cover his mortgage. For the last 15 years he and his wife have been renting out their one-bedroom basement suite for below market rent. Right now it’s being rented for $1,200 per month.

“We’ve come to think of our tenant as our last tenant,” said Macri.

RELATED: B.C. launches secondary suite incentive program in hopes of creating more affordable housing

He says as soon as their tenant moves out they’re going to change things up.

“We’ve got a pretty good spot for somebody looking to short-term rent here and I think if you look at the money as well, it’d be financially irresponsible not to consider it,” said Macri.

The province has recently made changes to only allow short-term rentals in someone’s primary residence or laneway house on their primary property, offering a new opportunity to homeowners who act as landlords.

“Municipalities simply needed to enforce their existing bylaws. That’s all that ever needed to happen,” said David Langlois, a realtor who says the provincial legislation is backwards.

“You’re taking the most expensive housing stock available and saying this is what we want to have rent, and they’re taking the most affordable housing stock we have and saying this is what we want to be short-term rentals. It makes no sense,” said Langlois.

For Macri, converting his suite is something he feels forced to consider to maintain his family’s quality of life.

“We’re on a variable, so my mortgage has gone up five per cent in the last year interest-rate wise. I live in Saanich, our property taxes have gone up 12 per cent in the last few years,” said Macri.

B.C.’s housing minister told CHEK News he’s not that concerned at the number of homeowners converting their long-term housing into short-term rentals.

“We may see some people do that, but we know, overwhelmingly, the majority will go long-term,” said B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.

In the municipality of Saanich, where Macri and his family live, short-term rentals are not allowed, but bed and breakfasts are. 

“I’d have to remove the stove and buy a box of Pop-Tarts and an AirBnB it has become,” said Macri.

READ MORE: ‘A Buick to a fly’: Realtor says new short term rental rules aren’t having desired impact

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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