Council sends discussion surrounding regulating Airbnbs back to committee



Although a plan to regulate short-term rental accommodations such as those listed on Airbnb was passed by Huntsville’s Development Services Committee at their last meeting, two of its members asked that it be put on hold when it went before council.

Councillor Jason FitzGerald who sits on the committee said he’s given the proposed regulations a lot of thought and heard from constituents “regarding some minor issues with some of the wording and some of the background presented in the report,” he said, adding that there may still be room for some fine-tuning before a final decision is made.

Councillor Nancy Alcock who is chair of the Town’s Development Services Committee concurred. “First and foremost I still support the proposed bylaw that was presented to our committee but as Councillor FitzGerald has said, there have been some issues raised with respect to the restrictions that we’re imposing on the secondary suites for a lot of good reasons.”

The proposed regulation would not allow self-contained apartments in dwellings to be rented on a short-term basis. The rationale given by staff is that such accommodations would compete with long-term rental accommodations, which Huntsville does not have enough of.

Alcock noted that staff did propose some amendments to the bylaw but she told council that she preferred to have the recommendation kicked back to committee for further discussion “to get this particular bylaw right. It’s a very important one, and a lot of people are waiting for it, and I just think that’s the appropriate place for the discussion on it.”

While Councillor Brian Thompson said he agreed with the process, he asked either Alcock or FitzGerald to elaborate further about “what your misgivings are at this point, like what’s missing, and maybe what should be included.”

Alcock said committee members have heard from people who have secondary suites currently being rented on a short-term basis on platforms such as Airbnb. She said while they understand that under the proposed regulation they could seek an exemption and a zoning amendment, they argue that the process would be costly. “And maybe that’s the right way to go but I think we need some more conversation around that. That was a fairly specific issue and it might come back just the same but I think that we need to have a more fulsome discussion around that.”

Council agreed to send the recommendation back to the Development Services Committee for further discussion.

Related story:  New plan to regulate short-term rentals gets committee approval

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  1. Waldi Frankiewicz on

    *First and foremost I still support the proposed bylaw that was presented to our committee….*Councillor Nancy Alcock. This lady spoke in a similar tone about Treasure Island two weeks ago…What will happen in the next two weeks?

  2. What happens if someone sues the Airbnb owners for negligence such as a wild party going terribly wrong and there is not enough insurance or even the correct insurance in place by the homeowner? If the Town is licensing and following up with the homeowners does it not mean that the Town will also be named in the lawsuit?

    • I am very glad to hear they will revisit the issue of not allowing secondary units to be rented out part-time. Does Town Council not understand that this is the only reason some people can afford to keep their home? Full time rentals are not the answer for many people who wish to keep their extra space for when family and friends visit. As a former landlord myself, I can fully sympathize with those who do not wish to rent full time. It is very stressful when people do not pay their rent, abuse the rental space and cannot be evicted in short order. I am hoping this part of the bylaw will be changed.

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