What to expect in the Short-Term Rental By-law
In February or early March, staff will present a report to Committee and Council with
proposed new rules for short-term rentals (STR), based on a regulatory framework
approved by Council in November 2019.
Currently, there are no regulations specific to short-term rentals. Short-term rentals
occur in every part of the City and it has proven very difficult to regulate problem
operators such as “ghost hotels” or “party houses”.
The staff report will include a new Short-Term Rental By-law with the aim of better
managing community nuisance issues arising from short-term rental activity and
protecting housing inventory for residential use.
The proposed regulations would establish a STR permit for hosts, and other
regulations for STR platforms and property managers. Council has directed that all
short-term rentals should have to get a permit from the City.
In 2019, Council directed that a by-law be developed that would limit short-term
rentals to each residents’ own home, with an allowance that for cottages and other
rural vacation properties.
This “principal residence” requirement for STRs is for the following reasons: If you
are renting rooms in your home or renting your entire home while you are out of
town, you still have a vested interest in maintaining your home and maintaining good
relations with your neighbours. Problems tend to occur with absentee owners that
have no ties to the community.
- Proof of principal residence will be required when applying for a STR
permit and can be audited by by-law staff at any time.
- STR permits would only be issued to an eligible host who is a person, not
a numbered company. Someone will have to be accountable.
- Landlords and condo and co-op boards can block short-term rentals on
their properties where their own governing rules (e.g. leases, condo
declarations) prohibit short-term rentals on their properties. The City’s
proposed permit system would respect those decisions.
Currently, there is no system to regulate short-term rentals. The Short-Term Rental
By-law will introduce standards for public health and safety, consumer protection
and community nuisance. By-law officers will have new tools to enforce these
standards and the City will be able to suspend or revoke permits if there are
- The new by-law will limit the number of people that can stay in a short-
- Hosts have to provide all guests with information about rules for onsite
parking, garbage, noise, smoking and other by-law infractions.
- Hosts will have to put emergency contacts in place to ensure that onsite
complaints are addressed, even when they are away during a rental
Currently, there are also no regulations for short-term rental platforms like Airbnb
and VRBO to operate in Ottawa. Council has directed that staff should develop rules
for short-term rental platforms and property managers to help prevent illicit rentals.
The Short-Term Rental By-law will introduce rules to hold companies accountable
for their activities in Ottawa.
- How they advertise and list short-term rental properties
- Removing advertisements for illicit rentals when they are told to
- Provide information about all advertisements and bookings in Ottawa
- Informing local hosts about City regulations
- Collecting Municipal Accommodation Tax
- Registration and standards for property managers
Council has directed that the new regulations include funding for additional
enforcement staff to regulate short-term rentals
- Municipal Accommodation Tax and fees will fund additional enforcement
resources. This means that the people that offer or use short-term rentals
pay for enforcement, not taxpayers.
- By-law and Regulatory Services will be able to hire 6 staff to improve
enforcement of short-term rentals.
- The new by-law will provide funding for tools to monitor the internet and
find short-term rentals, regardless of what platform or listing service they are using.