Last week, Council passed the long-awaited regulations for a new by-law that would establish a host permit system for local short-term rental hosts, and rules for short-term rental platforms, like – Airbnb, and property managers.
As per the housing crisis report published on April 9th by the FairBnb.ca Coalition, about 3,000 short-term rental listings are available in Ottawa. 52% of these short-term rentals are based in my community in Sandy Hill, Lowertown and Vanier.
Given the high concentration of these unregulated rentals, we have faced significant challenges with ghost hotels, criminal behaviour and other nuisances. In addition to these community nuisances, the many short-term rentals purchased as investment properties, prevent longer term tenants from accessing housing. As was analyzed during the consultations, more than 1,200 units were identified likely as a commercial short-term rental. Many of these units could be returned to the long-term housing market. With the affordable housing crisis we currently face, getting more units into the long-term market is a win-win for all.
A few examples of the challenges our community has faced:
The city’s new short-term rental regulations will require hosts to provide guests with clear instructions (including: waste management, parking, how to minimize community impacts, etc.) and will also require contact information from hosts and property managers to be provided to the City in order to resolve any community issues in a timely manner.
Short-term rental hosts will also need to get a permit from the City. As part of this permit system, the City recognizes the different types of buildings, including condos, and has put measures in place that would allow owners or Condominium Corporations to prohibit short-term rentals on their properties by registering their prohibitions with City staff.
In addition to these measures, the by-law’s regulations also restrict short-term rentals to principal residences. With this requirement, the City is able to protect rental housing stock, but also puts accountability onto the hosts and does not allow for investment properties to be used as Short Term Rentals. Many community issues have been related to these investment properties, so it is good to see the City move in this direction.
Complimentary to these new regulations, 4 additional By-Law officers will be hired to enforce more proactively. These new positions will be paid for by the user fees and Municipal Accommodations Tax collected under the new regulations.
For those that have been involved on this journey, I would like the thank you for your help in shaping the new approach for regulating short-term rentals in Ottawa. These important measures will support a safer and more cohesive community environment.