Winnipeg considering regulating short-term rentals

A Winnipeg man with 20 Airbnb properties is frustrated to see the city weigh regulations without speaking to property owners.

A report from the City of Winnipeg is considering adding regulations to short-term rentals. This could include criminal record checks for operators, a five per cent accommodation tax, and licenses for the rentals.

Curtis Gottfredsen is frustrated by the proposal to limit short-term properties to one property where the owner does not live, and one where the owner primarily lives.

He and his brother began renting Airbnbs seven years ago and now have 20 properties, mostly in the Osborne area.

“This is quite a unique location and we service the Osborne Village South area where there’s no hotels located,” said Gottfredsen. “It’s a community and we are part of the community.”

Standing in one of those properties, Gottfredsen says they converted the building his father used to work in into an Airbnb. He also says roughly one-third of people who rent with them are newcomers themselves, staying with them as they find a long-term home.

Gottfredsen estimates nearly 100,000 people have stayed with them over the years.

“We don’t make a lot of money. And that’s the thing, is our rents, our daily rents for people to stay here is between $54 and $99,” he said.

A spokesperson for Airbnb, policy lead Nathan Rotman, says while they support fair regulations, Airbnb is welcoming the opportunity to speak with the city about the report, including the proposed 30-day cap on overnight stays.

“As Manitoba continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, now is the time to welcome more visitors to Manitoba, and increasing restrictions on short-term rentals will limit the number of accommodations available to travellers,” they said in a statement.

Coun. Janice Lukes says her residents have been telling her they feel like they are living near a hotel when short-term rentals are near them.

“You can’t just have three or four homes that you just buy to rent out,” she said.

She says the new regulations would also impact commercial rental businesses that are offering short-term rentals.

The city is anticipating the licensing fee could bring in $195,000 annually, and the five per cent accommodation tax to bring in $279,00 each year.

The Manitoba Hotel Association says short-term rentals are direct competition.

“We’re quite pleased to see the regulations come out. It’s something the association has been looking for a while now, is to have regulations and kind of equal that playing field,” said Michael Juce, the president of the association.

“It’s challenging to reach out to businesses that are not licensed or registered – we don’t know who they all are,” Lukes said.

Gottfredsen says he wished someone from the city would have reached out to him or other Airbnb owners before proposing the regulations.

“I feel that they’ve only been given one side of the story. I don’t believe that they’ve actually come and seen – come out our properties and see what we do,” Gottfredsen said.

The city’s Executive Policy Committee will meet Thursday. If approved, the proposal will move to city council to be voted on. 

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