City to Regulate, Authorize, and Tax Rooms and Homes Listed on Airbnb

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Sudbury, Timmins, Thunder Bay and North Bay do not regulate short-term rentals, but the City of Sault Ste. Marie likes the idea

City officials are preparing to hold public consultations on the proposed short-term housing regulations listed on Airbnb and similar web platforms.

The draft regulation requires that any short-term rental (STR) located in a residential area is the main residence of the host.

According to City Hall, there are 13 hosts in Sault Ste. Marie exploiting several registrations, totaling 35 DOS.

City officials estimate that at least half of all listings are not a host’s primary accommodation.

The accommodation requirement would be removed for residential units permitted in commercial areas, although at present almost all of the Sault’s short-term rentals are in residential areas.

Other proposed regulations include:

  • STRs would be permitted in all areas that allow residential accommodation
  • STRs would be defined as any accommodation available up to 28 days
  • hotels and guesthouses would be exempt from STR regulations
  • a STR located in any residential area could be offered or advertised for more than 180 days per calendar year. This requirement would be lifted for residential units permitted in commercial areas.
  • STR hosts would be required to have a valid city license
  • the municipal accommodation tax (MAT) of four percent will be collected from the STRs

A report to city council prepared by senior planner Peter Tonazzo revealed that Sault Ste. Marie had 66 active STR registrations as of February 2020.

Forty of these were entire dwellings, while 26 were private rooms, with or without a dedicated bathroom.

Twenty-two of the listings were in the downtown area, while four were marketed as waterfront properties: three in the Pointes area and one on River Road.

“Almost all of the active DOSs are located in residential areas,” Tonazzo reported.

“Airbnb is by far the most used web platform, offering listings in over 190 countries. Others include Vrbo and Kijiji. In most cases, local listings on other platforms were also on Airbnb.

“While the extent of these impacts at the local level is unknown, in general there has been a steady increase in the supply of and demand for short-term rental housing online. “

The average daily rate for a STR private room in Sault Ste. Marie is $ 50, compared to $ 111 for an entire STR unit.

“Right now, the majority of municipalities with zoning bylaws for STRs are in southern Ontario,” says Tonazzo.

“Some municipalities in cottage country (Muskoka and Haliburton regions) also have STR regulations. Sudbury, Timmins, Thunder Bay and North Bay do not regulate STRs. Kenora is examining the possibility of regulation and Huntsville has spoken against any regulation.

Commented on Quartier 5 Conseil. Corey Gardi at City Council last week: “I think short term rentals should contribute to the MAT tax.

“We have to make sure that these short term rentals are safe to rent and that those who are the owners or the hosts are responsible.”

“It’s nice to see the data that shows that STRs haven’t had any disproportionate effect on our local housing market,” added Ward 2 Coun. Luc Dufour.

“But given some of the other conditions we have here locally in terms of affordable housing and vacancy rates, it’s good that the city passes STR regulations sooner rather than this becoming an issue.”

Many municipalities in southern Ontario only get into regulating STRs after investors have invested in the purchase of residences for use by STRs, Dufour said.

“We’re a little early here.”

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