Huntsville’s planning committee attempted to pacify concerns expressed by short-term rental accommodation hosts who currently rent out a self-contained unit in their home, also referred to as a secondary unit, by giving them a discount.
Because the proposed regulation, and corresponding zoning, surrounding short-term rental accommodations would not permit secondary units to be rented out on platforms such as Airbnb, hosts who want to rent out a secondary unit would have to seek a zoning amendment. The rationale, according to municipal staff, is that secondary units compete with much-needed, long-term rental housing in the community.
“Owners of properties where secondary suites are listed for STRA [short-term rental accommodation] would be advised to submit a zoning by-law amendment for site specific consideration by Council,” states a report presented at the Nov. 13 Development Services Committee meeting.
But zoning amendments are time-consuming and don’t come cheap. In response, at its December 11, 2019 meeting Huntsville’s Development Services Committee agreed to reduce the cost of obtaining a zoning amendment from $1,935 to $750, but only for those who can prove they were operating a secondary suite as a short-term rental prior to November 1, 2019. Existing hosts will also need to submit their application for a site-specific zoning amendment by March 1, 2020 to qualify for the fee reduction, on top of the initial $250 for a primary residence and $500 for a secondary residence licensing fee. The annual renewal will decrease to $150 for a primary residence and $250 for a secondary residence. Short-term accommodations will also be subject to the four per cent Municipal Accommodation Tax.
The short-term rental accommodation pilot program will kick in on April 1, 2020, and is expected to be revisited in two years to see if changes are required.
The regulation also sets out parameters around enforcement issues such as noise, garbage and the number of occupants allowed in a short-term rental, as well as parking requirements. Hosts who do not comply risk losing their license to operate altogether.
The amended bylaw is expected to be forwarded to Huntsville Council once more for approval at its December 17, 2019 meeting. It went before council last month, but before councillors could vote on it Councillor Jason FitzGerald, who sits on the committee studying the regulation, asked that it be sent back to the Development Services Committee for further consideration.
“I wanted to propose an amendment to exclude short-term rentals that have existed for a period of time,” FitzGerald told the committee, adding that many operate the service in order to maintain their household. But in the end, rather than exclude pre-existing operators of short-term rentals that operate a secondary unit, a break on the fee involved in seeking a zoning amendment to bring them into compliance was recommended by the committee.
You can find more information about how Huntsville is proposing to deal with short-term rental accommodations here.
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