City committee approves new rules for short-term rentals, Airbnbs operating in Ottawa

OTTAWA — Hosts of short-term rentals in Ottawa, such as Airbnbs, will only be allowed to rent out their primary residences or cottages under new rules approved at city hall.

A joint meeting of the planning and community and protective services committees unanimously approved the new bylaws on Thursday. Council must still approve the rules.

Under the new bylaw, hosts must acquire a $110 host permit licence from the city to rent out their property. The home must also be the primary residence of the operator.

The bylaw defines a short-term rental as a home that, in whole or in part, is rented out for short-term stays.

Corporations would not be allowed to obtain short-term rental permits.  If a condo corporation, landlord, or social housing provider has registered an objection with the city, permits would not be issued for those properties.

The rules follow complaints from neighbours of rowdy parties and even crimes at homes that appeared to exist purely as short-term rental properties, dubbed “ghost hotels.”

Council passed new rules in 2019 restricting the use of Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms to only a person’s primary residence; however, under the current rules, short-term rentals are still technically permitted only if one is operating a hotel or a bed and breakfast. City staff say there is currently no definition to permit the short-term rental of the whole of a residential unit in a residential zone as temporary accommodation for the public.

The city says violations of the new short-term rentals bylaw may result in fines for both guests and host of up to $100,000 each day.

Ottawa will hire six temporary full-time Bylaw officers to enforce the new rules for short-term rentals.

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Ted Raymond

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