Provincial government should standardize STR rental rules

By Suzanne Atkinson/Image:Airbnb online

Editor’s Note: This article is a followup to an earlier post written August 16:  http://cramahe.newsnownetwork.com/2023/08/16/local-airbnbs-money-makers-or-headaches/

As the number of short term rentals (STR) increases across Ontario and the average price per stay dips, rural municipalities are calling on the Ford government to put some teeth into STR policing legislation, including revoking licenses for the bad actors.

It turns out that the municipality of Alnwick/Haldimand isn’t alone in having problems and experiencing controversy around short term rentals.

In June the rural municipality of Selwyn requested that the Ford government enact legislation policing STRs, defined in most areas as a rental offering acommodation of less than 30 days.

An insurance company spokesman said there are a few things to consider should a farmer decide to enter the Short Term Rental business.

He said first off, make sure your insurer will insure STRs.

Second, included amenities such as walking trails, livestock petting, horse rides may require an additional liability policy, available as an add on to a policy.

He said that while agri tourism and agritainment are becoming more and more a part of country living, some insurance companies don’t have the appetite to insure them.

A survey of Postmedia’s Ontario Farmer archives, show news stories from 25 Ontario communities discussing regulation, with many already enacting a Municipal Accomodation Tax.

A spokesman for AirBnB says the company, which an Ontario government document shows has 57 per cent of the short term rental business, has a neighborhood support hotline to address problems; and a 24/7 emergency line. You can find it at airbnb.ca/help.

Matt McNama says the company will respond within 24 hours to issues involving parties, disturbances or a noise complaint. He said the company has a no-parties policy and said hosts who consistently flout the rules, including permitting too many guests at a rental, could face suspension.

He said when a complaint is filed, the company can “send a note to the house to ask the guests to abide by the rules.”

The June 27th Selwyn township resolution requested that the province require that “Short Term Rental brokerage companies, …, appropriately manage and be responsible for their listings.”
Selwyn requested that STRs be licensed, pay an annual fee and that funds be made available to municipalities to respond to issues at such properties. It also asked that the province “require the STR company to de-list/remove the property from the company’s listings so that the property cannot be rented where a municipality has identified and verified life, health and/or nuisance infractions including noise, fire safety, septic, etc…”

One woman in Alnwick/Haldimand said bylaw authorities did not respond to her repeated noise and trespassing complaints and police only caution partiers to quiet down.

Municipalities including Dutton Dunnich, Ashfield Colborne Wawanosh and Armour Enniskillen have supported the Selwyn motion.

McNama said Air Bnb has tools available including a city portal where it will work with municipalities to create a framework of appropriate rules.

“The vast majority,” of hosts he said, “abide by local rules.”

The company he said, believes that “when it comes to what local communities need, from the local perspective,” they are best qualified to make that determination.

The Selwyn resolution also requested a provincial solution because locally-implemented bylaws create “inconsistencies, confusion and frustrations for both consumers and residents.”

The average daily rate hosts are charging is taking a hit as an increase in supply may be taking a bite out of demand. Across Ontario the revenue per available rental dropped by 24 per cent down to $61 from $80 in May, 2022.

According to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the occupancy rate for short term rentals in Ontario dipped in May this year over May of 2022 to 42 per cent, from 52 per cent. With the average rate falling to $145.60 from $155.34, owners were also faced with increased competition for the short term rental dollar; at least for the month of May.

MMAAH said its statistics were compiled by seetransparent.com. The total count of properties across Ontario jumped 42 per cent; to 65,698.

The Greater Toronto Area saw a jump of 56 per cent in the number of STRs available and its occupancy rate fell by 14 per cent. The average daily rate jumped to $125 from $117; one of few increases across the board. While all 15 areas of the province saw jumps in the total count of properties, the lowest jump was the 16 per cent in north central Ontario and the highest was the 53 per cent jump in the York Durham and Headwaters, east of Toronto.

Southwest Ontario saw an occupancy of 42 percent, down over May of 2022 which was 53.6 per cent. The average daily rate was $132.95, a drop from 2022’s $137.66.

The most expensive average rate for short term rental in Ontario was the $264 charged  in Algonquin, Muskoka and Parry Sound, followed by $246 in the Kawarthas and Northumberland. At the same time the occupancy rate in the Algonquin area was 36 per cent and in Kawarthas Northumberland was 35.5 per cent.

Many municipalities across Ontario are blaming the ballooning number of STRs for the unavailability of residential housing, high house prices and long-term rental rates.

The table did not break out statistics for Prince Edward County, but it said south eastern Ontario had a 40 per cent occupancy.

Across Canada the occupancy rate settled at 46.5 per cent, down from 2022’s 53.6 per cent. As well, supply across Canada jumped by 26 per cent to 170,247 units.

McNama said hosts and guests are expected to abide by local rules and act in good faith with the community.

A spokesman for MMAH said last week Municipalities are responsible for determining whether and how they will exercise their authority to license and regulate business within their jurisdiction and should consider their local circumstances when regulating short-term rentals.

Oh, and if you’d like to discuss your rowdy neighbors with McNama, sorry, he’s not available this week. He’s camping… at a campground… in Prince Edward County.

Suzanne Atkinson is an agricultural columnist who regularly contributes to Ontario Farmer/Ontario Dairy Farmer and is also a dairy farmer near Warkworth. She views well-managed short term rentals as a wonderful way for farmers to pull in some extra income that can help with a mortgage and the high cost of running a family farm. She can be reached at: zan@xplornet.com

 

 

 

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