Nov 14, 2019
The City of Ottawa published on November 5 recommendations on how to regulate Ottawa's
short-term rental industry. These proposed bylaws were met with quick reactions
from Airbnb hosts and short-term property management businesses. An online
petition Let’s Share Ottawa has also been circulating online.
The report will be presented at a Community and Protective Services Committee
Meeting in City Hall
on November 15. Airbnb Canada public policy director Alex Dagg, breathebnb Vacation RentalManagement co-founder
Scott Clément, and others will be speaking at the meeting.
One of the proposed bylaws would restrict short-term rentals to primary
residences, meaning that investment properties would not be allowed. Those who
want to rent their home on Airbnb or similar platforms would need to provide
proof of principal residence using a lease or deed.
Some exemptions to the primary residence rules include recreational
properties, such as cottages, that fall outside of the city’s boundaries, as
well as hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts that use short-term rental
addition, the recommendations include the requirement to obtain a short-term
rental permit. These permits would cost $100 and be valid for two-years. They
can also be revoked if there are unpaid fees, evidence of criminal activity,
incidents endangering public safety, or repeated public nuisances.
also recommends increasing the municipal accommodations tax (MAT) to 4.25%.
Last year, a 4% MAT was imposed on all
including hotels and platforms like Airbnb. The money collected is remitted to
the city and goes towards the Ottawa tourism industry.
Toronto already has similar bylaws limiting short-term rentals to
primary residences and requiring registration with the City. At the moment,
Ottawa’s recommendations don’t include a maximum of nights that an entire home can
be rented out if the owner is away, whereas, the limit is 180 days per year in
are intended to address the issue of housing affordability. The city is
evaluating how short-term rentals are impacting the long-term rental market.
There are concerns that the rise in Airbnb rentals have led to a shortage of long-term
rental properties, increasing rental prices.
The city plans
to reduce the number of exclusively short-term rental properties to increase
rental vacancy, which is currently below 2%. The city anticipates that these
recommendations will convert short-term rental properties into long-term ones,
increasing supply and decreasing prices.
individuals have also noted that short-term rental properties have caused
problems in their neighbourhoods with ‘party houses’.
recommendations will only serve to punish the thousands of responsible Ottawa
hosts who use Airbnb as a means to support their families," Alex said in a
impact of these new rules is on short-term property hosts and property
managers. The rules affect short-term property management businesses like
breathebnb who provide services to property owners that rely on the additional
interview with Scott, he shares his disappointment that the city is imposing
these new rules because it is not willing to accept this new way of lodging.
hurts a lot of hosts, it also hurts a lot of the businesses that now rely on
the short-term rental market,” says Scott. “This industry has created many
jobs, from cleaners to property management staff.” He also mentions that restaurants
and local shops that aren’t in typical tourist areas have seen a boost in sales
thanks to nearby short-term rental properties.
Scott also emphasizes
that the short-term rental market supports the Ottawa tourism industry by
providing accommodations for guests that are in town for large-scale events. During
the Canada 150 celebrations, there was a significant influx of tourism in
Ottawa and hotels couldn’t keep up. With these new rules, Ottawa will not be
able to attract large-scale events if it doesn’t have the capacity to host all
agrees that it’s beneficial to add rules related to the licensing of each
property to keep hosts to a strict standard, the primary residential rule will
not make housing more affordable for anyone.
to a study conducted in Santa Barbara, only 5% of hosts surveyed would turn
their properties into long-term rentals if short-term rentals were banned. In
Ottawa, this would amount to approximately 67 properties.
by Scott whether this study had been factored into its decision, the city admitted
that it had not seen it.
15 at 9:30 AM, Scott and other short-term rental hosts plan to speak at City
Hall to urge councillors to look at more evidence and studies. They hope that
the city will listen and take into consideration the unintended consequences of
these proposed bylaws.
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