The township of Tiny’s council unanimously approved a new bylaw to licence and regulate short-term rentals.
The regulations passed in a special meeting of council on August 11, 2022, and are expected to take effect on October 4, 2022. The bylaw will establish a licencing system, health and safety standards, a demerit system, and occupancy limits. It will also limit the number of licences available to 300 and place restrictions on rental periods.
Aidan Black-Allen has been renting out her cottage in Tiny since 2015, but she worries the new regulations go too far. “It’s going to make it really difficult, if not impossible, for families like mine to continue to be able to supplement their income by using the cottage as a short-term rental,” she says.
Black-Allen says she supports the licencing of short-term rentals but worries about the costs associated with the new bylaw. She points to the $1500 licencing fee, mandatory inspections, and—for those who don’t live in Tiny—the hiring of staff who can attend to the rental property within an hour’s notice (as required by the bylaw). “I only rent my cottage for about six weeks a year. So for me, this completely wipes out any income that I’m going to make,” she says.
Black-Allen started renting out her property to earn supplemental income while she stepped back from full-time work to raise her three children, and she says Tiny’s approach will price part-time renters like herself out of the market. “The people who bought these places primarily for the purpose of renting them out are the ones who are going to have the money to do this. So, you actually push out families, like mine, who rely on this income,” she says.
Short-term rentals provide work for local businesses and contribute to the town’s tourism industry, and Black-Allen argues placing restrictions that reduce the number of rental properties could also be detrimental to Tiny’s economy.
Rental owners can increase their rates to cover the new costs associated with the bylaw, says deputy mayor Steffen Walma. The $1500 licencing fee amounts to an extra $16 per day for property owners who rent out their units for the maximum allowable time of 92 days, a cost which can be added on to existing rental fees, he says. “Tiny is a beautiful place, and I actually feel like people would pay an extra $16 or even $25 to make up that difference,” he says. “I definitely think they’d have to adjust their prices to make up the $1500 difference, but I don’t think it changes anything as far as rentability.”
Many of the inspections (building code, fire protection, and zoning) are covered by the $1500 licencing fee, says Walma. While some inspections (electrical and, when applicable, H-VAC and wood burning appliances) and necessary repairs may cost rental-owners money, they are there to ensure that people aren’t renting out substandard and unsafe properties, he says. He also notes the bylaw bans businesses and corporations from obtaining a short-term rental licence.
Walma hopes this bylaw will serve as a first step to regulating short-term rentals in a way that appeases both short-term rental owners and those who take issue with them. “To me, this is kind of the middle ground. So we’ll be able to hopefully find a place where both can exist and not negatively impact the other.”
As for Black-Allen, she is still considering what these rules might mean for the future as a short-term rental operator. “It’s really hard to say,” she says. “I know that there are a lot of people out there who are going to be facing similar difficult decisions.”
Here are some noteworthy points from the new regulations:
- Short-term rentals must be licenced. Rental owners will have to apply for a licence with a $1,500 application fee and receive the necessary inspections. Licenced rentals will have to have their licence numbers on display.
- Demerit system. Tiny will establish a demerit system to deal with bylaw, licencing, and health and safety infractions. A licence may be revoked if a rental owner reaches 15 demerit points.
- Occupancy limit. Occupancy limits will be set at two people per bedroom.
- Excessive noise restrictions.
- Parking, fire and safety requirements. Standards must be met and maintained by the property owners.
- A limit of 300 short-term rental licences in the community.
- Emergency contact. Short-term rental owners must have someone available to attend to the property within an hour’s notice.
- A ban on business and corporation-owned short-term rentals. The new bylaw will prohibit businesses and corporations from obtaining a short-term rental licence.
- Rental period restrictions. Rental owners can’t operate for more than 92 days a year, and between April 15 and October 15, properties can only be rented for a minimum of six days at a time. From October 16 to April 14, rental owners may only host one rental every six-day period.