Bruce Eagles (“The case for switching to AirBnB,” Jan. 20) writes that paying a renter 1.95 per cent interest on their damage deposit is his “last straw.” His complaint is without merit – he can invest the security for three per cent in a cashable GIC, or four per cent with an online savings account, thereby earning a risk-free two per cent profit on the tenant’s money. One wonders if this is some new rentier class malaise – free profit on other people’s money is now perceived as an unacceptable burden? Housing, while privately held in Canada, exists as a public good and a right for all. Conversely, the business of private ownership of property for purposes of renting to others is not a “right,” it’s merely a (necessarily regulated) privilege afforded to the rentier capitalists – those whose income derives, not from providing any service nor from producing anything of value, but merely from using capital to derive income and capital gains.
Every business, including real estate rental, has challenges, including problem customers, damages, and burdensome regulations. All business owners, including landlords, need to consider the quality and reliability of their customers and price accordingly – the best tenants are not necessarily the ones who can pay the most. All business owners are free to lobby for more advantageous regulations, and are free to exit any business deemed unfavourable. That said, Eagle’s blatant “threatening” to convert rental units into AirBnBs, and especially his encouragement that others do the same, thereby further reducing already scarce housing stock and leaving local housing largely underutilized, only sounds arrogant and ignorant, (not to mention) selfish, and should serve as yet a further warning to local governments of the need to continue to both very tightly control the STR market and to prioritize new, and affordable, housing development of all kinds.
Ardent capitalist, long time renter with impeccable references
Alan Donenfeld, Gibsons