New plan to regulate short-term rentals gets committee approval

9

 

Following public consultations, municipal staff has come up with a new proposal for regulating short-term rental accommodations.

Initially, only an entire residence could be rented out on platforms such as Airbnb but that has since changed to include up to two bedrooms in a host’s primary residence as well. Secondary dwelling units―in other words, a self-contained apartment in someone’s home―would be prohibited from being rented out on a short-term basis. The rationale, according to staff, is to ensure such secondary dwellings are not removed from the long-term housing market.

“Comments were provided indicating that, due to the restrictions within Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Act [sic. Residential Tenancies Act] and particularly the inability to remove a neglectful tenant, it is highly unlikely that existing second units being used for short term rental would ever be converted back to long-term rentals, regardless of the outcome of this process,” states a report submitted by staff to Huntsville’s Development Services Committee for approval on November 13, 2019.

“Although the concerns raised have been considered extensively, at this time no amendments are proposed that would permit secondary suites to be used as STRAs [short term rental accommodations]. Owners of properties where secondary suites are listed for STRA would be advised to submit a zoning by-law amendment for site specific consideration by Council,” states the report, which also suggests that concerns regarding the regulation of long-term rental accommodations by landlords be forwarded to the District of Muskoka and the Muskoka Affordable Housing Task Force, “as limiting the restrictions landlords face when dealing with a negligent tenant could encourage more individuals to rent their properties long-term and address a component of housing availability in Muskoka.”

Other changes include the cost of obtaining a license in order to operate a short-term rental. Initially, the rate for someone renting their primary residence was proposed at $500, and someone renting a secondary residence, like their cottage, would be $1,000. Following public input, those rates are now proposed at $250 and $500 respectively, while the annual renewal fee would cost $250 for someone renting out their primary residence, and $250 for someone renting out their secondary residence.

In terms of enforcement when it comes to noise, garbage, over-capacity, parking or other disturbances caused by a short-term rental, a three-strike approach would apply, notes the report. If a host or property were to receive three complaints within a six-month period, staff would have the ability to revoke the host’s short-term rental license.

“The property owner would then have the ability to appeal this decision and a hearing would be conducted by the Development Services Committee. If appropriate, the license could be reinstated,” states the report, which also states that wording has been incorporated in the proposed bylaw to ensure “that complaints are legitimate, and that a host is not being unfairly targeted.”

Under the licensing regime, hosts would apply for a license and the accommodation would be inspected by municipal staff before a license is issued and “the initial licensing fee will need to reflect these costs. A subsequent licence renewal fee could be reduced, unless modifications were made to the property that would require an additional inspection,” states the report.

Zoning will be amended to reflect the allowed use. The report also states that a short-term accommodation co-ordinator position would need to be created to run the program and monitor online sites for compliance. “Additional staff resources for enforcement may also be needed and would need to be included in future budgets with any additional staff cost to be directly offset by the licensing fees received. As the licensing program is proposed for a two-year trial, it will be continually reviewed to ensure that the approach is appropriate. In addition, the Coordinator position would also be responsible for ensuring that licenses are renewed on an annual basis,” it adds.

Staff indicated that collection agreements are being worked out with short-term rental platforms in order to charge and remit the four per cent Municipal Accommodation Tax.

The report and the recommendations contained therein are expected to make their way to Huntsville Council’s November 25, 2019 meeting for approval. If approved, staff is recommending an implementation date for the regulation of short-term rental accommodations to begin April 1, 2020.

According to the report, there are an estimated 375 unique short-term rental listings in Huntsville. You can find the full report here.

Don’t miss out on Doppler!

Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!

9 Comments

  1. I believe there will be surprises when the licensing process is started. Within the geographic boundaries of the Town of Hunstville, they will probably find there are one-hundred fewer short-term rental listings (<275) than estimated. Obviously, this will severely impact their budget.

    Some homeowners have invested considerable amounts of money in upgrading their homes to permit the use of three bedrooms. According to the 2014 FOBBA report, approximately 40% of B&B's rent 3-rooms (Note: Huntsville by-laws define a 3-room B&B as a Boarding House, currently permitted in Zones R3, RU1, MU1, MU2 and MU3). https://www.fobba.com/docs/Newsletters/Final%20Report-FOBBA%20Industry%20Survey%20(1).pdf Is the Township going to be changing the definition of Boarding House, and will the new by-laws govern Boarding Houses also?

    Does the township have any evidence, whatsoever, that disallowing Secondary Dwelling Units will actually free up those units for longterm rentals? Perhaps a compromise position would be that it would not allow future conversion of EXISTING long-term rental units to short-term?

    • The town is using homeowners, and their homeownership benefits, as their own.
      Homes have been updated and renewed creating a positive impact on real estate values and attracting new buyers to these areas simultaneously promoting tourism with the Town spending a single cent towards it.
      Homeowners are switching from long term rental situations to short term rentals situations because of damage and neglect of long term renters realizing the strict one sided guidelines that keep long term renters with occupation until policies permit eviction regardless of the neglect being done to the space being rented.
      3 strike rule for noise?
      The homeowner could be violating these rules, what’s the damn difference?
      A totally gross abuse of power of policy making.
      The town wants affordable housing? Build it, you deal with it.
      Stop reaping rewards of proud responsible homeowners exercising financial opportunities.
      This move, these restrictions to homeowners, are disgusting.

    • On Nov 7, there were 890 short term rentals listed on 5 separate platforms. By using the street view on the provided maps, I found 512 unique addresses. I have no idea how the Town’s consultant came up with 375 (I suspect they must have altered the definition of “short term rental”.

      And yes….McGill’s School of Urban Planning has done comprehensive studies on short term rentals. David Wasmuth even testified before the LPAT ( formerly the OMB) this past summer on behave of Toronto’s very restrictive regulations, saying that approximately 1/3 of the short term rentals return to the stock of housing.

      Applying what is known about the relationship between housing costs and the number of short term rentals, the average rent in Huntsville is $130 a month higher due to short term rentals and the average cost of a house in Huntsville is $93,000 higher (this from peer reviewed and replicated studies across North America)

      Currently 75% of the communities in Ontario have banned third party short term rentals.

      • Waldi Frankiewicz on

        Paul, if you have devoted so much time to this matter, why didn’t you conduct a community interview and meet with the owners of these 512 unique addresses who want to rent a piece of their house for a short period of time?. You would have a chance to find out what motivates these people.This could also give the readers of Doppler a full understanding of this very complex situation.

  2. Waldi Frankiewicz on

    As I have already written in my previous comments, the Huntsville authorities will try to force this decree among themselves without the participation of the residents. The municipal staff’s published statement speaks about the public consultation that has been carried out. Can a hasty survey be called a consultation?. It’s a joke. A similar system existed years ago in the Eastern European countries associated in the communist bloc and in the historical dimension it did not work. In the system then in force the authorities of that time determined how many crops the farmer is to produce, when to sell them and for what price. The same authorities decided how much area of the house the owner of the house and his family can use, and what area of the house the tenants are to use. The authorities decided on everything.Every new legal act or ordinance according to official government propaganda was each time consulted with the public without the possibility of verifying this information. Is it possible to live in such a system?.Yes, you can.The only thing you need is to develop your ability to survive…What about the election of the new mayor?. I hope that everyone knows the answer perfectly well.

    • I agree, totally. I have lived in that Eastern European system for 30 years… Was born there. Heard about “freedom in North America” for years, then came here and was shocked. It didn’t take me long to discover that it was not much different here than it was there… The technology was more advanced (back then) here and the standard of living was higher here, but in terms of democracy and freedom, things were pretty much the same… Actually now, people have more freedom there than here, maybe because they had to fight for change and as the result they had eradicated a lot of autocracy and buerocacy. But nobody here realizes how little Canadian democracy has to do with real democracy. Everybody thinks here they have real democracy. They have democracy, for sure, Canadian way. That is, when a town council decides what the rest of us is to do. Us is to obey. Period. Socialism, as I remember, was exactly the same. Thank God, I did not move to Canada to escape socialism, I moved to Canada because I fell in love with a Canadian. I am still in love with a Canadian. That is why I am here. That it the only reason why I am here. And I love the scenery. I am no longer surprised by the way things work here. I do get upset sometimes, but it is my human nature.
      I knew that AirBnB luck would run out, ordinary people making extra money to support their income and the government not getting their cut out of it, that was unthingable. Never mind that we are in Muskoka, where many people have part time, seasonal jobs, little financial security, often no benefits, therefore struggle with poverty big time. Some extra income is so welcomed. But never mind that. Let’s just squash any chance of them having little more money, put up bureaucratic walls around it, just to make their lives even harder. But do not anger those rich cottagers, or rich locals who have bought numerous houses in town solely for airbnb purpose, just strike the locals who have granny suites…
      But why would those that work at the town hall care? They have their well paid jobs with benefits. They don’t need extra income to pay their mortgage or supplement their income when seasonal jobs end.
      It truly smells socialism to me, when the government tells me what I am allowed to do with my home, my property… My parents lived through those years. They were forced to have a tenant in their home. They had no say who it was and for how long. On the other hand, it was just after the war, and at that time, the majority of buildings was in ruins and genuinely there were no places to live. Everybody had to share.
      However why Town of Huntsville is covering up its own obvious incompetence in handling the affordable housing crisis (for years!!!) by suddenly denying people airbnb licence and forcing on them long term tenants – thinking that it will solve the housing crisis – it beats me!

    • Note 75% of Ontario Communities already have more restrictive regulations of short term rentals…..No need to raise the Eastern European bogeyman. All western democracies operate by a system of social contracts. Based on the facts, short term rentals offer exactly nothing to the community at large and are known in a quantitative way to damage communities affordability

  3. The lack of affordable longer term housing is constantly in the news with the stories of individuals having no luck finding it. What the stories don’t discuss is the lack of respect longer term tenants renting out space in a home often show for the property of others. We identify and display stories of decent, frustrated individuals looking for a place to live, and we should also maybe identify and show show stories of the messes often left behind? Not really necessary, as word -of-mouth is more effective than the written word in this case. Horror stories like these are everywhere and a lot of responsible homeowners want no part of assisting others in finding a place to live, which is sad and says so much for lack of empathy. Now the town wants to fee and regulate who can rent how much space and for how long ?? Ludicrous! I totally agree with Doug Hobson – “a totally gross abuse of power of policy making”. Shorter term out-of-town vacationers show a lot of respect for property here and love to visit/explore/shop/dine in our bit of heaven, showing a great deal of caring and respect for our area, to say nothing of the dollars left behind here supporting all, and the hosts should be thanked, not fee’d for bringing funds to our town. Maybe focusing on faster improvements to our infrastructure would be a better use of council’s time than seeking cash grab initiatives??

    • Study after study shows that short term rentals provide less than 5% of their rentals as new tourist dollars. The rest is stolen from small motels /hotels

Leave a reply below. Comments without both first & last name will not be published. Your email address is required for validation but will not be publicly visible.