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Published on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Town moves to regulate Airbnb and short-term rental accommodations in Oakville

Short-term rental accommodation operator must now have principle residence in same dwelling

Town moves to regulate Airbnb and short-term rental accommodations in Oakville
airbnb
Town begins permitting 'short term accomodations' such as airBNB
By David Lea, Oakville Beaver

OAKVILLE — The town has made changes to its zoning bylaws in an effort to regulate and govern Airbnb and short-term rental accommodations in Oakville.

The town’s planning and development council voted to make the changes during a March 19 meeting.

The term “short-term accommodation” typically describes rentals that occur over a short period (e.g. less than 30 days).

Town staff said the zoning bylaw regulates the types of properties that homeowners can rent as a short-term accommodation, and effective Nov. 1, a new licensing bylaw will require rental companies and rental hosts to be licensed with the town in order to operate.

“We do understand you are looking to regulate and put restrictions in place that would limit the impact that short-term rentals could have on our community. Perhaps this is the level of restriction we can best get, but we do have some suggestions.”

Joshua Creek Residents’ Association president Janet Haslett-Theall

“Council’s objective is to protect the livability and vitality of our communities,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton. “We believe these new regulations will help us maintain community character and create accountability in the home-sharing market.”

The town’s zoning bylaw amendments now recognize short-term accommodations and permit them within a variety of residential areas, subject to obtaining a licence.

In order to operate a short-term accommodation, the new bylaw requires that a certificate of occupancy and a $237 per year license be obtained; that the accommodation be operated by the person(s) whose principal residence is the dwelling in which the rental unit is located; and that one additional off-street parking space is provided.

A short-term accommodation company would need to have commercial general liability insurance at $5 million while a short-term accommodation operator would need to have insurance at $2 million.

The new licensing bylaw also requires short-term accommodation operators to operate in a way that does disturb the surrounding residences.

Jim Barry of the Town’s bylaw enforcement department said this whole process was initiated because short-term rental accommodations were causing noise and nuisance problems in local neighbourhoods.

Short-term accommodations are not allowed within the same dwelling as a bed and breakfast establishment, a lodging house, a private home daycare, or a daycare.

The new regulations permit three lodging units within a bed and breakfast -up from two, to create more equity in the market between short-term accommodations and the bed and breakfasts.

Popular online platforms such as Airbnb, Flipkey and HomeAway facilitate bookings and payments for short-term accommodations.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the new regulations.

Joshua Creek Residents’ Association president Janet Haslett-Theall said short-term accommodations do not support community building and stable residential neighbourhoods.

“We do understand you are looking to regulate and put restrictions in place that would limit the impact that short-term rentals could have on our community,” she said.

“Perhaps this is the level of restriction we can best get, but we do have some suggestions.”

Haslett-Theall said she supported the regulation that the short-term accommodation operator needs to have their principle residence in the same dwelling.

She also said a total annual cap on nights that the unit could be rented is critical and called for a clear complaint system to be established.

“It seems to be in behind the scenes with the short-term operator. It needs to be at the forefront. Who can a resident call? How will it be addressed?” asked Haslett-Theall.

“It shouldn’t just be our bylaw officers, it should be the operator.”

Burton said the regulations could be passed and then improved as they are rolled out.

The regulations passed unanimously with the exception of Ward 3 Coun. Dave Gittings who voiced concern about the town’s ability to enforce them.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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