The growing popularity of short-term rental services, such as Airbnb and VRBO, has created new opportunities and challenges for Ottawa and its residents. The City is currently considering the best way to manage this emerging industry. This component of the study will also consider possible changes to hotel/motel regulations.
A special joint meeting of the Community and Protective Services and Planning Committees will occur on April 22nd, 2021 to consider new regulations for short-term rentals - this means temporary accommodations that are offered for a period of less than 30 consecutive nights and listed on short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO.
What is under consideration?
The special joint committee will consider:
- New rules for short-term rental hosts and guests, platforms, and property managers
- New Zoning By-law definitions for short-term rental, cottage rental, bed and breakfast, and hotel
- Temporary use permission in the Zoning By-law to allow short-term rentals in specific parts of the City for a three-year trial period
- Minor amendments to the by-law regulating the municipal accommodation tax to require short-term rental platforms to collect the tax on behalf of their hosts
What does this mean?
If the special joint committee support these recommendations, they will be debated at Council on April 28th, 2021. If approved by Council, the rules would come into force on June 1st, 2021 and implemented in phases over the summer months.
Who would be able to offer short-term rentals?
Under the proposed rules:
- Homeowners would be able to offer short-term rentals in their own home (principal residence)
- Renters would be able to offer short-term rentals in the rental unit that is their principal residence, if their landlord permits
- Condominium and co-operative owners would be able to offer short-term rentals in their principal residence, unless prohibited by the condominium corporation or housing co-operative
- Rural homeowners and cottage owners would be able to offer “cottage rentals” with a separate permit
Where would short-term rentals be allowed?
Under the recommended by-law, short-term rentals would be allowed:
- In the host’s principal residence in the urban area, except where bed and breakfast use is prohibited by the Zoning By-law
- In the host’s principal residence in rural villages
- In a cottage or vacation home, secondary suite, or coach house in rural areas other than villages
- In certain dwellings that have legally established as hotels prior to the in-force date of the by-law (conditions apply)
What are the proposed rules for short-term rental hosts?
In order to offer short-term rentals, hosts:
- Would need a City-issued host permit for their principal residence, at a cost of $110 for two years
- Would need a separate cottage rental permit, at a cost of $110 for two years, to rent one cottage or home in the rural area
- Would only be able to list (market or book) a short-term rental through registered short-term rental platforms
- Would have to include the City-issued host permit number and the maximum number of overnight guests on all listings, as noted on the host permit,
- Would have to provide guests with contact information and information about noise, parking, smoking and vaping regulations, as well as fire safety, and emergency services
How will the City address “party houses” and other nuisance issues?
Under the recommended Short-Term Rental By-law, short-term rental hosts (or their property managers) will need to respond to nuisances occurring during the rental period if requested by By-law and Regulatory Services. Hosts will have to communicate applicable rules for noise, garbage, smoking and vaping, onsite parking, as well as maximum overnight guest and occupancy limits to their guests, to help prevent nuisance and illegal behavior during the rental period.
All by-laws will continue to be enforced during the short-term rental period, including those regulating noise, parking, and solid waste. In addition to any enforcement actions, By-law and Regulatory Services would be able to:
- Issue charges against hosts for any violations of the by-law, with possible fines ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $100,000
- Refuse host permits based on enforcement history or other circumstances relating to public health and safety, or in the case of unpaid fees or fines
- Suspend or revoke host permits for by-law violations
How would the Short-Term Rental By-law protect housing supply?
In the residential zones within the urban area of the City, you would only be able to offer short-term rentals in your own home. Short-term rentals in “investment properties”, where the host does not live there, would be prohibited under the proposed by-law.
Condominiums, housing co-operatives, and rental housing providers would be able to prevent a short-term rental host permit from being issued for buildings and units where short-term rentals are prohibited under their own governance rules, such as condominium declarations, by-laws or rules. Short-term rentals would be prohibited in all community housing.
In zones where an “investment property” offering short-term rentals has been legally established as a “hotel” prior to the by-law taking effect, the property owner will be required to obtain a host permit and follow the rules within the by-law.
When would the new rules take effect?
If approved by Council, the new rules could take effect as early as June 1, 2021. A phased approach would be used throughout the summer months to:
- Register short-term rental platforms and property managers
- Begin registering prohibitions against short-term rentals
- Begin accepting applications for host permits
- Begin issuing host permits
- Announce the final deadline for compliance
The emergence of short-term rentals in private dwellings through online platforms such as Airbnb and Expedia have changed the landscape of the hospitality industry. In doing so, this new industry has created both opportunities and challenges for residents of Ottawa.
For some residents, the financial opportunities created through online short-term rentals have increased their housing security and enhanced their quality of life. Some communities have also benefited through increased tourism outside of the traditional tourist districts in the City.
Some communities have also benefited through increased tourism outside of the traditional tourist districts in the City.
However, the rapid growth of short-term rentals has also brought new problems:
- neighbourhood disruption from “party houses”
- units devoted full time to short-term rentals remove housing supply and contribute to higher long-term rents and housing prices
- short-term rentals cause problems for landlords and condominium boards who do not want them in their buildings
- safety concerns related to overcrowding
Through the Rental Accommodations Study, the City is developing a new regulatory regime to manage these issues.
The first staff report and recommendations were presented at a special meeting of the Community and Protective Services Committee on November 15, 2019 and approved at City Council on November 27th, 2019 with minor amendments. This report provided City staff with a framework for the development of the short-term rental regulations that will be considered by a special joint meeting of Community and Protective Services Committee and Planning Committee on April 22, 2021 and by City Council on April 28, 2021.