On March 13, Seguin Township Council rejected a proposal for the introduction of a bylaw and licensing program for short term rentals (STRs), instead agreeing to enhance current quality-of-life bylaws. This comes after the township saw a 76 per cent increase in STRs between 2021 and 2022.
In the Seguin Township Staff’s Report to the council it is noted that 29 properties have received complaints related to STR issues to date. Despite STRs—properties that can be rented for less than 28 days—technically being prohibited in the township, it was found that there have been 260 listings in Seguin since 2020. In lieu of cracking down on these listings, the town favours adaptation.
“While council did not adopt the recommendation, they were highly receptive to the data presented in the report,” says Jason Inwood, the chief administrative officer of Seguin Township. “Council preferred that staff focus on monitoring successful tactics and legal proceedings related to short-term rentals in comparable Ontario communities,” he adds.
STRs in Seguin are regulated by quality-of-life bylaws—rules for waste disposal, burning, noise, and more—that apply to owners and renters alike. For some, this is enough, for others, it’s not.
A 2022 survey conducted by the township of local residents showed that their opinions on the matter are relatively split, with roughly 33 per cent voting for complete prohibition of STRs, 33 per cent voting to permit STRs with increased enforcement of existing regulations, and 34 per cent voting to introduce a licensing program. A survey conducted in 2020 uncovered similar results.
The surveys highlight a shared desire among residents for at least some level of increased regulations. “We have rewritten several bylaws to better support quality of life in our Township and expanded bylaw personnel,” says Inwood, of the town’s plan to enhance existing bylaws, which passed on May 15.
Inwood reports that these measures seem to be well-received.
“Our neighbours are full-time residents, and no one has ever complained,” says a Seguin cottage owner, who rents out their property on VRBO. “[The neighbours] appreciate that we carefully screen our guests.”
Of course, this experience, wherein owners screen their guests and renters vacation respectfully, is not universal.
The Seguin cottage owner, who has said they would not be opposed to a licensing fee, is against full prohibition. “A lot of renters just want to have a getaway with their family for a week and swim, have a campfire, and enjoy cottage country.”
Rules and regulations surrounding STRs in Ontario’s cottage country are constantly changing and evolving as different municipalities come to terms with the growing demand for casual rentals. If you rent your cottage, it is always best practice to ensure visitors vacation respectfully by providing a binder containing the local quality-of-life bylaws and how to follow them.