City proposes restricting short-term rentals to primary residences only
OTTAWA — A new by-law, set to be voted on by the Community and Protective Services Committee Nov. 15, would heavily restrict and regulate the short-term rental market in the Capital.
A report prepared for the committee says the recommended framework is intended to give residents the ability to benefit from using services like Airbnb to make some extra money while minimizing the impact the short-term rental market has on neighbourhoods and the housing market.
The proposed by-law outlines rules for short-term rental platforms, agents and hosts.
Platforms would be required to register with the city, provide current contact information, and update the City quarterly with information on all hosts, listings, and revenue. Platforms would also be required to collect a municipal accommodations tax (MAT) of four per cent from all guests and pay that to the City every three months.
There is a proposal to raise the MAT to 4.25%, if necessary, to cover the costs of the new regulatory regime.
The registration fee would be a one-time payment, which staff estimate at $4000, but they admit the fee is under review.
Agents would be required to register with the City as well, at proposed a cost of $200 per year, and keep a list of all clients to provide to by-law services upon request. An agent would also be required to attend a property within two hours of a call from by-law or regulatory services.
Hosts would pay a proposed $100 for a two-year permit to rent out their primary residence on a short-term basis. They must provide the City with proof of ID and primary residence, a proof of ownership or occupancy (i.e. a deed or lease), proof of insurance, and a floor plan of the home. They would also be responsible for the conduct of their guests.
Hosting permits will not be issued to corporations, and will not be issued if a condo corporation, landlord, or social housing provider has registered an objection with the City. Permits can be revoked for criminal activity, unpaid fees, serious impacts to public health, or “egregious or repeated public nuisances.”
There would be exceptions for cottages and vacation homes in rural areas.
Hotels, motels, and traditional bed and breakfast locations would also be required to obtain short-term rental permits, but would be exempt from requirements like occupancy standards and primary residence requirements.
The report says the proposed approach would make it easy for platforms, agents, and hosts to register, and would incentivize registration, since By-Law officers would be focused on non-compliant or unregistered short-term rentals.
The City would also establish a short-term rental enforcement team for three years, to make sure people are following the new rules, and would establish an informational web page outlining the new regulations.
If approved by the Community and Protective Services Committee, the proposed framework would go before full City Council for a vote on Nov. 27.