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New rules coming for rentals

December 2, 2019
Feature Stories

The City is going to bring in new rules that allow people to rent out their homes, cottages or vacation properties on a short-term basis, meaning fewer than 28 consecutive days. The City will continue to prohibit commercial operators from running short-term rentals such as Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeAway and FlipKey.

A house with a price tag

What’s the situation now?

Commercial short-term rentals in residential neighbourhoods have become common in Ottawa, though they are not legal under our existing zoning rules. There are an estimated 1,200 houses or apartments being rented out in this way.

City Council heard from the City’s consultants that there are two main problems with these rentals:

  • They reduce the amount of housing available for residents.
  • There have been lots of problems in residential neighbourhoods where owners are not on-site and guest turnover is high. This includes out-of-control parties, garbage and parking complaints, and violence.

The City is moving to toughen up by-law enforcement for problem rental properties generally. Property owners or tenants who repeatedly refuse to obey City property standards will now have to pay a fee of $500 for any re-inspections by by-law officers, on top of any fines that may be charged.

What are the new rules?

There are no new rules yet. They will come in 2020 and have to be approved by Council. But Council, on Wednesday, November 27, did approve a general approach. It includes this:

  • Residents will be able to rent out their primary residence. Renting out a secondary or investment property will continue to be illegal, except in rural areas.
  • In the rural areas, secondary suites, coach houses, cottages and vacation homes could be rented out for short periods.
  • People renting out their properties will need to get a permit from the City, provide information to the City on their listings and to their guests on legal parking, solid waste disposal and other site-related requirements. The City will use money raised through the new registration and permit fees, and from the municipal accommodations tax, to enforce the rules.
  • Residents will only be able to list short-term rentals that have received a permit, and the City’s permit number will have to be included in all listings.

Are there any other changes coming?

Additional by-law staff will be hired to enforce the rules. The City will also look into creating a public online database of property standards violations so tenants can look up properties they are interested in renting.

New by-laws will also require better landlord-tenant communications and pest and vermin management.

To increase tenant education, the City will make more information available on tenant rights in multiple languages.

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