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No new by-laws for problematic short term rentals in the City of Kawartha Lakes

KAWARTHA LAKES-“I am not happy with this decision and I can tell you I will fight it.”  Raymonde Blais Couture told Kawartha 411 after the council vote.

On Tuesday, council voted in favour of increasing enforcement of existing by-laws instead of adding new licensing or regulations to deal with problematic short term rentals.

Couture is President of the McGuire Beach Homeowners Association. She says they have been having big problems with short term rentals in their area.”They aren’t here to respect us, they are here to have a good time.” Couture says. ” I’m talking about a bus that drops off 30 people to a three bedroom house.” Couture says they use the homes simply to party and have no regard for the neighbours. “Over the weekend we had people on top of the roof, we called the OPP and by the time they came they weren’t on the roof anymore.”

She says police told her they had received 89 calls for noise from her street alone. But noise isn’t the only concern. “I even called the fire department myself when there was a fire ban. The fire truck came at 10 oclock at night and the fire was 8 feet tall.” Couture exclaims. “I was told by the driver of the fire truck that they cannot charge them because it’s a bylaw issue.”

Officials with the city say they have only received 7 complaints about short term rentals. Not enough to make major changes according to officials.

Staff recommended and council supported monitoring short term residential rentals and enforcing the laws already in place. Including:

  • Continue to respond to by-law violation complaints as per current practices and by-laws;
  • Implement new processes to fully use existing legislation to address complaints;
  • That the Clean and Clear By-law 2014-026, Animals By-law 2017-039, Open Air Burning By-law 2016-110, Fireworks By-Law 2007-236 and the Noise By-law 2005-25 be amended to reflect that the onus is additionally placed onto the property owner to ensure that they are taking responsibility for the activities that are occurring on the properties that they own;
  • Conduct an education campaign and information sharing process to inform property owners, cottage/road associations and visitors of their responsibilities, by-laws and regulations as well as increased fines for repeat violations of the by-laws;
  • Increase proactive enforcement of by-law violations and conduct random and focused enforcement in partnership with Police Services; and

The City’s Fee’s By-law outlines the fees that can be charged to the owner of a property for inspections by Municipal Law Enforcement staff that result in a by-law violation being found. A first offence would result in a $110 fine.

City Staff are also recommended wording changes and removing free additional inspections to the make the schedule clear that fees are only charged when a violation is found.

The changes will also protect owners of short term residential rental properties from vexatious complaints by including provisions that fees for service are only levied if by-law violations are found.

Staff have also developed a tracking tool within the City’s complaint management database to track calls that are coming in specifically for rental properties. They will also be connecting with the OPP to log the calls police respond to.

The problem is bylaw officers don’t work at night at that’s when the majority of problems occur. Councillor Mary Anne Martin suggested the hours be changed on the weekend. However CAO Ron Taylor suggested it would have to wait until a new collective bargaining agreement. Councillor Pollard suggested hiring more enforcement officers.

The Mcguire Beach residents aren’t the only ones having a problem with short term rental properties. The Rolling Hills Homeowners Association says at least one person has sold their home and moved away because of major issues with a neighbouring short term rental.

They say the peace and tranquility of the neighbourhood is being ruined by an Airbnb rental at the end of the street. “People were going over on their docks, in their pool and the pool is right by the house, dogs loose on their property.” Sharon Mckay told Kawartha 411. “People are so rude.”

Her husband Don, the Secretary for the Homeowners Association,  says not all the Airbnb rentals are that way but at least half of them are. “The other 50% come up here to have a good time and to party, they have total disregard for the neighbours or the neighbourhood, we have animals running at large, foul language, parties in the wee hours of the morning and cars driving excessive speeds up and down the road.”

Airbnb is an online marketplace that allows people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation home rentals and apartment rentals.

Drug overdose deaths, speeding, drunken parties and dogs running loose are just a few of the incidents that concern residents in Scugog.

“When people have a choice of renting a waterfornt party house for $800 a weekend packed with 20 people at $40 each or going to a commercially available rental where they would have to pay much more and mind their p’s and q’s…. need I say more,” Bob Brockman told council back in October. “People will always go for the best bang for their buck.”

Read the full story here: https://www.kawartha411.ca/2017/10/11/council-takes-a-closer-look-at-regulating-short-term-residential-rentals/

Short term rentals are big business for homeowners and the City. The Tourism Development Department says the vast majority of visitors to the City are using short term rentals, “70% of our overnight visitors are staying in private cottage rentals, there’s 1.4 million stays a year so cottage rentals are really, really important to our tourism.” Laurie McCarthy told council. “Not only are 70 percent of accommodations short term rentals, these visitors stay longer and spend more in our community.”

McCarthy says they spend money in our community, promote Kawartha Lakes as a tourist destination and some comunities are using Airbnb’s to grow tourism. “Registered BnB’s are using Airbnb , I don’t think a lot of people realize that Airbnb’s are a platform for our registered properties as well.”

Council says they will be monitoring the situation and if things don’t improve they will look at additional regulations in the future. Mayor Letham said. “There’s no perfect solution to this so if we are going to refer everything back to find a perfect solution we are going to be talking about it for years and accomplishing nothing. My opinion is we should start with this, we’ve got lots of room we could improve on it as the process moves forward.”

Couture says that’s not good enough. She vows to continue to fight.


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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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