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 has been considering the best way to manage this emerging industry and City Council has now approved new rules and regulations.
NOTICE: The City of Ottawa’s temporary use zoning for short-term rentals has been appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). As a result, the coming into force and implementation of the Short-Term Rental By-law (By-law 2021-104) will be delayed until the planning appeal is concluded. Further information on the appeal process will be posted here once it becomes available.
The City of Ottawa is implementing new rules for Short-Term Rentals. The Short-Term Rental By-law (No. 2021-104) was enacted by City Council on May 12, 2021. It will be implemented in phases over the summer months.
What was approved?
- New rules for short-term rental hosts and guests, platforms, and property managers
- A limit of 2 overnight guests per sleeping room
- A maximum number of four (4) sleeping rooms in a dwelling unit or mobile home, with up to a total of eight (8) overnight guests
- A maximum number of eight (8) sleeping rooms in an oversize dwelling unit, with up to a total of ten (10) overnight guests
- 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 Municipal Accommodation Tax By-law to require short-term rental platforms to collect the tax on behalf of their hosts
Who will be able to offer short-term rentals?
Under the new rules:
- Homeowners can offer short-term rentals in their own home (principal residence)
- Renters can offer short-term rentals in the rental unit that is their principal residence, if their landlord permits
- Condominium and co-operative owners can offer short-term rentals in their principal residence, unless prohibited by the condominium corporation or housing co-operative
- Rural homeowners and cottage owners can offer “cottage rentals” with a separate permit
Where are short-term rentals allowed?
Under the by-law, short-term rentals will be allowed:
- In a principal residence in the urban area, except where bed and breakfast use is prohibited by the Zoning By-law
- In a 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 rules for short-term rental hosts?
In order to offer short-term rentals, hosts:
- Need a City-issued host permit for their principal residence, at a cost of $110 for two years
- Need a separate cottage rental permit, at a cost of $110 for two years, to rent one cottage or home in the rural area
- Are only able to list (market or book) a short-term rental through registered short-term rental platforms
- Must include the City-issued host permit number and the maximum number of overnight guests, as noted on the host permit, on all listings
- Must 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 Short-Term Rental By-law, short-term rental hosts (or their property managers) must respond to nuisances occurring during the rental period if requested by By-law and Regulatory Services. Hosts must communicate applicable rules for noise, garbage, smoking and vaping, onsite parking, as well as maximum overnight guest and occupancy limits to their guests in order to help prevent nuisance and illegal behaviour 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 will 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 will the Short-Term Rental By-law protect housing supply?
In the residential zones within the urban area of the City, you can only offer short-term rentals in your own home. Short-term rentals in “investment properties”, where the host does not live there, are prohibited under the by-law.
Condominiums, housing co-operatives, and rental housing providers will be able to prohibit short-term rentals in their buildings according to their own governance rules, and short-term rentals will 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 will the new rules take effect?
The new rules take effect June 1, 2021. A phased approach will be used throughout the summer months. The City will begin:
- Registering short-term rental platforms and property managers
- Registering prohibitions against short-term rentals
- Accepting applications for host permits
- Issuing host permits
- Announce the final deadline for compliance
Stay informed and stay tuned!
We will continue to keep you informed and provide all the information you need on how to register if you are a platform, host or property manager.
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 and
- safety concerns related to overcrowding
Through the Rental Accommodations Study, the City has consider options 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 were considered by the special joint meeting of Community and Protective Services Committee and Planning Committee on April 22, 2021 and then subsequently approved by City Council on April 28, 2021 with minor amendments. By-law No. 2021-104, the Short-term Rental By-law, was enacted by Council on May 12, 2021.