KAWARTHA LAKES-After more than five years of study, City of Kawartha Lakes council is poised to begin licensing Short Term Rentals (STRs).
Committee of the Whole adopted the plan today. It will now go to council for full approval. There are more that 1,000 listings for Short Term Rentals also known as AirBnB’s in the City.
Aaron Sloan, Manager Municipal Law Enforcement and Licensing (MLEL) told council that they started studying the issue including data on complaints in 2017.Read more here: https://www.kawartha411.ca/2017/08/14/neighbours-want-airbnb-in-their-neighbourhood-grounded/
In 2018 they held a public forum but decided not to implement any news rules. Read more here:https://www.kawartha411.ca/2018/08/15/no-new-by-laws-for-problematic-short-term-rentals-in-the-city-of-kawartha-lakes/
Sloan said in 2022 complaints increased and a task force was later created. The talks force has held five public meetings.
“I believe this is a very good start and if we have to make changes we will,” said Councillor Charlie McDonald who is leading the task force. “One of our top priorities is safety.”
If the recommendations pass, all Short Term Rentals will need to be licensed. The licensing fees will vary depending on whether the host is on-site or not and whether the property will be rented out all year or seasonally.
A Short Term Rental operating year-round with an owner or manager on-site will pay $300. The fee will drop to $150 for a seasonal property. If there is no manager or owner on-site the fee rises dramatically to $1500 per year or $750 seasonally.
The licenses will work on a demerit point system. If a property reaches 7 demerit points it will have its license suspended for six months. If it reaches 15 demerit points the license will be revoked. Demerit points will reset after two years.
In relation to the study of STR’s and as part of the STR Task Force recommendations, staff met with both Police Services (Kawartha Lakes Police Services and the Kawartha Lakes O.P.P.) The purpose of the meeting was to explore current practices, investigation services, and information sharing and to discuss the added value in hiring pay duty officers to respond to weekend STR issues to support the STR program in a focused way outside of MLEL hours of service. This option was not feasible according to the report.
There will be a new 24/7 vendor-supported intake and complaint response system. The STR Task Force has suggested that this time period is approximately 20 days, covering the weekends in July and August. Bylaw hours will also be expanded later into the evenings.
The vendor will have access to direct owner contact and will act as a complaint intake line. All calls will be recorded and the vendor will reach out to the proper service whether it be police, fire or bylaw and will follow up with the caller or complainant. If the owner fails to respond they will get demerit points, every time there’s bylaw or police involvement demit points will be assessed.
Sloan says there will be improved information sharing across agencies they interact with and support from police and city departments with 24/7 vendor support is a big piece of program. He says police have agreed to respond to bylaw complaints after hours.
“What we have tried to do is address the safety and provide balance for the businesses,” Sloan said.
The occupancy limits will be based on the number of bedrooms in the property and the size of the septic system etc. Renters will need to abide by a Renters Code of Conduct.
The Task Force had hoped to limit the number of STRs that can be on any street but City solicitor Robyn Carlson said the move would put the City at odds with current legislation. It was removed from the proposal.
Officials are hoping to implement the program for a soft rollout in July.