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Update on review of Short Term Rentals


Council receives update on review of Short Term Residential Rentals in the City of Kawartha Lakes

Kawartha Lakes – City staff have completed an extensive review of short term residential rentals in the City of Kawartha Lakes and will be providing an informational report to Council on the June 19 agenda on the outcomes of the review and proposed options for Council consideration.

The review consisted of a comparison of other municipalities’ regulations, existing municipal by-laws and legislation that apply in the City, a survey which received more than 600 responses and a public forum attended by more than 60 people.

Overall, the survey results show that the public does not think that short term residential rentals should be regulated. Reasons for this include that they have minimal impacts on neighbourhoods and that they play a key role in economic development and tourism. According to the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, private home/cottage rentals accounted for 51% of all domestic accommodation revenues in 2016, approximately $8 million.

Staff have developed three options for Council consideration, with the recommendation that Council postpone a decision until the August 14, 2018 Council meeting.

The first option is to remain status quo and continue monitoring short term residential rentals. An additional level of regulation is not needed or being requested by the community at large. Under this option staff would continue to respond to by-law violation complaints as per current practices and by-laws. Staff have developed a tracking tool within the City’s complaint management database to track calls that are coming in specifically for rental properties.

The second option is to introduce a registration program for owners who rent their properties for 30 days or less. The registration fee would cost $100 and be valid for five years or until the property ownership changes hands. This option would allow City staff to collect owner information, information about the property and a local emergency contact. Owners would be required to post the registration certificate in a visible spot on the outside of their property.  Current legislation will be used to enforce the issues that arise from the property, including provisions within the Fees By-law to charge a fee for service to the owner after a second call to the property is received. This option can be difficult for the City to enforce as some owners will not see a perceived benefit in registering and failing to register will bring legal penalty. Additionally, seeking out short term residential rentals is difficult to do as many internet listings do not provide the exact address of the property until payment is received. Additional staff in Municipal Law Enforcement and the Licensing Division would be required to implement this option.

The third option would be to increase Municipal Law Enforcement hours of service during the evenings and on weekends from May 1 to October 31 annually. Current legislation and/or registry by-law would be used to enforce issues that arise from the property including the provisions contained within the Fees By-law to charge a fee for service to the owner after a second call to the property.

Complaint response for issues such as noise could be investigated outside normal staff hours, but the frequency of these issues is very low. Regulation of short term residential rentals will be limited to properties where persistent issues exist. This option would require a significant increase of Municipal Law Enforcement officers and additional staff resources in Law Enforcement and the Licensing Division to implement this option and to avoid increasing response times to the other enforcement issues. Due to the low frequency of complaints, this option could not operate as a cost recovery model.

City staff believe there is enough legislation currently in place to effectively address the issues created by short-term residential rentals. Staff have consulted with many internal and external agencies to discuss the enforcement of areas of concern brought to staff’s attention during the review process and determined that existing legislation speaks to the vast majority of concerns raised by the public.

In regards to unsafe boating, the Kawartha Lakes detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have advised the City that there will be a marine unit in local waters daily throughout the summer to monitor activities in waterways. The OPP encourage the public to report unsafe marine practices directly to the OPP.

In regards to the complaints received about the overloading of septic systems at residential rental properties, the City is responsible for the enforcement of the Ontario Building Code which includes maintenance and functionality of the sewage system. Residents with concerns about a malfunctioning sewage system can complete a written Building Complaint Form on the City’s website. There must be valid concern such as sewage escaping the system in a manner that is not intentional, signs of failure, or spongy ground/wet spots.

Alterations to the physical structure of a property are also regulated under the Ontario Building Code which assesses capacity as being two persons per bedroom. If alterations are suspected to have been made to a property without a building permit, residents can complete the City’s Building Complaint Form.

Municipal by-laws exist to address the issues of parking, dogs at large, excessive noise and improper garbage disposal. However, call volume exceeds response capacity at present staffing levels.

The City’s burn by-law is enforced by Municipal Law Enforcement as well as the Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service. If a fire appears to be out of control or too large, residents are encouraged to contact the City’s Fire Rescue Service as fire fighters will be dispatched to all calls when a report of unsafe burning is received.

For more information, please read the Council Report on the City’s website. To report an issue with a short term rental property, visit the City's website. If you would like to provide feedback, please email

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