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.
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