Real Estate

After public survey, City of Kawartha Lakes launches new short-term rental regulations

Bobcaygeon, Ontario on a map. Kawartha Lakes short-term rental Photo by SevenMaps/Shutterstock

The City of Kawartha Lakes council approved a new bylaw to licence and regulate short-term rentals on April 18. It begins with a soft launch during the current 2023 season, requiring a yearly license, insurance, and an annual $1,200 fee for un-hosted short-term rentals (properties where the owners remain on-site)—hosted rentals will have a $300 fee.

A February survey conducted by the city found that while 68 per cent of respondents are supportive of short-term rentals, 74 per cent believed they should be licensed and regulated. The majority will be happy with the result of the council’s decision to move forward with the bylaw.

With over 1,000 short-term rentals listed in the area, regulations were inevitable. In the 2022 season, there were 138 complaints made against short-term rentals, with the most being about loud noise and music, followed by garbage being left out, open-air burning, and other non-bylaw issues, such as alcohol and drug use, unsafe boating, public nudity, trespassing, and parties.

Joseph Melara has been renting out a short-term property in Kawartha Lakes for the past five years, and he’s in favour of the regulations. “The bylaw provides a framework for the city council to work with, and ensures that all rentals are in compliance,” he says. “It provides a clear set of guidelines for both renters and owners to follow, which ensures all parties are aware of their responsibilities.” Melara believes the bylaw will help—not hurt—owners renting out their cottages, making the added fees worth it. “I have seen the positive effects that similar bylaws have had on other short-term rental markets—reducing complaints and keeping neighbours happy—and I think that will be the case in Kawartha Lakes as well.”

The anticipated cost of running the license program is $400,000 per year, and the fees will help cover this cost. While some may not be happy with the new fee, the council document suggests that these fees passed onto the renter, leaving no increase in fees to the owner.

What are Kawartha Lakes short-term rental regulations?

You can read the full bylaw rules and regulations here, but here’s what you should know:

  • STAs must be licensed by the city, with licenses expiring every April 1st or when the unit is sold to a new owner. The fee is $300 for hosted and $1,200 for un-hosted properties
  • Insurance requirements
  • A contact available either on-site or within 30 or 60 minutes away
  • Limit to two people per bedroom. You also can’t advertise or permit a greater occupancy number than is registered
  • A signed declaration stating thatt all owners understand and accept responsibility for other bylaws surrounding noise, open-air burning, waste, parking, animals, fireworks, and property standards
  • Copy of all bylaws for renters to access
  • Limits on parking—no more cars than there are parking spaces available
  • An inspection of the premises to ensure it is in compliance with parking, floor plans, and fire safety
  • A demerit point system. A license can be suspended if the accommodation receives seven or more demerit points, and revoked if it receives 15 demerit points. Demerit points expire after two years
  • Fines of up to $100,000 for violating this bylaw

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