Stricter controls wanted for STR operations

by Gregg Chamberlain - EAP
Stricter controls wanted for STR operations
Hawkesbury council voted to support a resolution from Fort Erie council to the provincial government calling for stricter guidelines on short-term rentals, including online sites like AirBnB that short term rental operators use to promote their properties. (Photo : archives)

As short-term vacation rentals become more popular through online promotors like AirBnB, demands for stricter controls over these types of businesses is also increasing.

“We haven’t experienced the problem here yet,” said Councillor Jeanne Charlebois, “but it’s coming.”

The councillor referred to a copy of a letter from Fort Erie town council reviewed during the August 28 session of Hawkesbury council. The letter was sent to Premier Doug Ford and noted the increasing popularity of online outfits like AirBnB and VRBO in promoting short-term rental (STR) accommodations for people planning their vacation, a business conference, or some other activity.

These sites provide global listings of properties available for short-term rental, ranging from a day or two to several weeks or even months. The sites provide contact information for the owner of the STR but no other guarantees or conditions for the person who owns the STR and the person who rents it.

Fort Erie council noted in its letter that the growing popularity of the STR business is creating a “concentration of ownership and proliferation of landlord corporations with minimal interest in or accountability to local communities.” The letter also noted that there is often “lack of control over occupancy” and an increase in the number “nuisance infractions” where STRs operate.

East Hawkesbury Township and other municipalities in Ontario that have STRs operating in their community have had complaints from neighbouring homeowners about excessive noise during the day and in the early-morning hours from STR tenants using the place they rented as a “party house”, There are also concerns about whether the waste disposal systms and other facilities of STRs are designed for the numbers of people they sometimes accommodate. Municipalities with STRs within their community have had to revise their zoning bylaws to place stricter operating conditions on the owners of STRs.

Fort Erie council also expressed concern in its letter that the increasing popularity and demand for STRs will result in a decrease in the number of long-term rentals (LTR) available on the housing market and increases in rents for those LTRs still available. The concern is this would mean fewer rentals available at a reasonable cost for families and also for season workers who need a place to stay for several months while working on farms or summer or winter season tourism businesses.

Fort Erie wants the provincial government to create new operating regulations for online businesses like AirBnB that promote and provide contact information for STRs. The regulations would demand that STR owners obey local municipal planning and licensing rules, forbid STR operators to advertise on these sites if their properties are not registered with the local municipality, and also that AirBnB and other such promotion platforms provide contacts for local and provincial governments to deal with any problems involving STR owners.

Hawkesbury council voted to support the Fort Erie council resolution to the provincial government.

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