They’re more frightening than wild bears and more disruptive than a herd of skunks: rowdy renters. Unfortunately, most of us have encountered these problem cottagers before. Unlike owners who are generally financially and emotionally invested in a given region, many renters are just stopping by for a good time—and that can mean loud late-night parties, garbage strewn everywhere, and 4 a.m. fireworks.
But the Muskoka Lakes Township is thinking of introducing some consequences. The punishment would not affect the renters themselves, however. Instead, the township’s committee has proposed fining cottage owners who rent to problem tenants.
The fine was proposed at a committee meeting for the township, after chief administrative officer Steve McDonald presented a report outlining complaints and calls to the police made in 2016. According to the official report, there were complaints of noise, fireworks, scattered garbage, and a dog running loose. Councillor Sandy Currie read an email from a Muskoka Lakes resident outlining some of the issues they had experienced. “The complaints ranged from noise, fire issues, jammed parking, garbage, swearing, trespassing, et cetera,” the email read. “We spent $3,000 last fall on a fence since trespassing has been an issue for us.”
“We can’t close our eyes to the fact this is a problem here,” Currie said.
In response, Councillor Phil Harding proposed a short-term rental bylaw that would either impose a fine or restrict the rental abilities of landlords who had repeat noise complaints at their properties. “Call it a good neighbour condition,” Harding said, “[…] that if more than three complaints are registered against a property, then we have an ability to do something, then we can shut you down.”
The fine isn’t the only solution being pursued. The township has also hired a full-time bylaw officer, a measure the committee hopes will help curb the number of bylaw violations.
A report examining a proposed fine bylaw will be brought back to council at a future meeting.