RESPONSIBLE RENTING

St. Edmunds Property Owners, Inc. supports that concept and practice of RESPONSIBLE Short Term Rentals.

Historically, people have spent vacations in cottages for the past century in Ontario.  Originally, only the affluent could afford to own a vacation home by the water where they would spend summer holidays. In their absence, they let friends and family enjoy these summer residences. Today, with the proliferation of online rental platforms and increased affordability, anyone can search online for a desirable waterfront vacation property.  This has led to a flood of folks renting cottages who regrettably, in a few isolated instances display objectionable behaviour in contrast to the majority of responsible vacationers who respect the property and the neighbourhood. In a few instances, property owners themselves are not immune from exhibiting the same inconsiderate behaviour towards their neighbours.

Short Term Accommodations in the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula continue to prompt debate with people taking sides. One thing is certain: total agreement is unlikely and our municipality needs to move forward with a policy that is agreeable to the majority of property owners in this municipality.  Large urban centres to small rural municipalities have adopted a variety of policies. Several small municipalities have elected to strictly enforce their bylaws while continually gathering data pending modifying their approach to STAs. The City of Kawartha Lakes and The Municipality of Tiny Township are two such municipalities. Complaints reported in both municipalities, were the usual ones associated with large numbers of people, including noise, open fires, fireworks, barking dogs, garbage, parking, etc. Both have a significant seasonal residential component.

Neither Kawartha Lakes nor Tiny Township licences or regulates STA’s. Both regard Short Term Accommodations as very important components of the local economy.  They report a low rate of complaints similar to our (61 over 3 years of unclassified renter or owner generated complaints) reported by the MNBP. In both jurisdictions, when investigated, even fewer complaints were attributed to STA’s and the few were satisfactorily resolved. Owner occupied places were equally responsible for the few bylaw infractions.

Licencing leads to regulating that necessitates inspections; how can you license without understanding and knowing what you are licencing? Possible legal action against the municipality is always possible in the case of overlooked owner negligence. Instead, zero tolerance bylaw enforcement is used. Kawartha Lakes and Tiny Township amended the applicable bylaws to include one warning followed by zero tolerance enforcement.  In both municipalities, with bylaw infractions, the offender is fined with the option to contest in court or pay the fine; the property owner is levied a fee which can either be paid or added to the property tax bill.

In both municipalities, when they investigated the cost of licencing STAs, the estimated $150,000.00 annual cost in Kawartha for staff to establish, record and update records was a poor investment and a poor use of resources.  Maintaining records on the estimated 500 places in the MNBP would be a major undertaking and to what end?

Kawartha Lakes and Tiny Township enforce their bylaws rigorously with additional summer time staff.  The problem in our municipality is the lack of consistent bylaw enforcement! Remember the illegal use of dumpsters?  Were there any reported follow ups when infractions were reported?

The City of Kawartha Lakes and The Municipality of Tiny Township have developed and implemented realistic, reasonable and user friendly Short Term Rental policies.  These are examples of what is needed in The Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula!

Kawartha Lakes has dedicated a full web-page to the topic, including posters created to remind property owners and their visitors about by-law regulations and other important local information. https://www.kawarthalakes.ca/en/things-to-do/short-term-rentals.aspx

Kawartha Lakes  STAs Information for renters and property owners: Kawartha STA Information for Renters and Owners

Kawartha Lakes STAs Information Sheet for resident and property owner complaints: Kawartha STA Information for Complaints

SUMMARY OF CONVERSATIONS WITH KAWARTHA LAKES STAFF            City of Kawartha Lakes February 21 Summary

Open all the tabs about noise, septic systems, etc.in this link to see their reasonable approach :                                                                                                       

 Tiny Township also has a reasonable method of dealing with STAs.  https://www.tiny.ca/Pages/Short-Term-Rental-Information.aspx 

Tiny Township’s Short Term Rental Information Tiny Township, Short Term Rental information

SUMMARY OF CONVERSATIONS WITH TINY TOWNSHIP STAFF Municipality of Tiny Township February 2020 Summary

Municipalities of all sizes throughout this province are impacted by and  recognize the importance of “Seasonal Residents” or “Second Home Owners” who rent responsibly using the following criteria.  

  • Number of occupants does not exceed the design capacity of the building and its septic system
  • Occupancy is “normal family” use  for which the building was designed and built.
  • Septic System is operating properly and is regularly maintained
  • When constructed, the building met all applicable building codes
  • The building and property meets all relevant fire codes
  • Minimum stay restricted to four nights.
  • The landlord is onsite or nearby or readily accessible 24/7 and is known to and readily accessible by the neighbours 24/7 in case of any emergency or tenant problems
  • Adequate on site parking for ALL vehicles associated with the property
  • Tenants are apprised of all “house rules” including absolute respect and consideration for the neighbours
  • No inconsiderate behaviour including no noise after 11:00 PM or before 9:00 AM
  • Tenants are aware of and comply with all ordinances including applicable Fire Bans and NO Fireworks

The Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula, in 2017, 2018 and 2019, collected and tabulated data on the number and nature of complaints associated with rented cottages; looking at the small number of complaints, one has to wonder what all the fuss is about: COMPLAINTS RELATED TO STAs, 2017 – 2019. There is no differentiation between owner or renter delinquent behaviour                                                             COMPLAINTS RELATED TO STAs RECEIVED

The Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula conducted a survey during the winter of 2018-2019 in order to determine the number of Short Term Accommodations that exist in the municipality:  Short-Term-Accomodations-Survey-April-8-2019.pdf

December 16, 2019 the Consultant reported to Council, the first item was entitled “Best Practices, it draws a comparison to other municipalities.  STA Best Practices for STAs – Final Report (2) 16DEC19, it was followed by a detailed summary of the survey, STA Survey Results – Final Report (2) 16DEC19 and preliminary recommendations STA Recommendations Report (1) 16DEC19

Please take the time to follow and to read further on this page about solutions that other municipalities have put in place. In the meantime you may want to complete the survey:

SEPO  supports a position that hiring an outside consultant for this purpose was frivolous, particularly in light of the fact that this consultant lacks experience, as reflected in the poorly crafted STA survey questionnaire, that appears biased against short term rentals.. This project would have been better handled by existing municipal staff.  Did Mayor McIver and CAO Jones look at or did they contact municipalities that have adopted a common sense approaches in dealing with STA’s and if they did, what municipalities were contacted and to what end?

FOCA, Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association, website page “Responsible Cottage Rental” outlines a number of aspects for “responsible renting” including links to practices in other municipalities. It can be found at this link https://foca.on.ca/responsible-cottage-rental/

Penalize (STAs) Who Have Infracted, Not Those Who Are Responsibly Sharing
Homes Letter_ The Battle on the Bruce – Penalize (STAs) Who Have Infracted, Not Those Who Are Responsibly Sharing Homes _ Bruce Peninsula Press

DEALING WITH A NEIGHBOUR’S DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOUR

Dealing with a “troublesome” neighbour can be awkward; ideally, the first step should be addressing the situation in person prior to filing a formal complaint. If resolution on a personal basis fails, then complaints about noise or disruptive behaviour should be directed to the Ontario Provincial Police, non-emergency call line 1 888 310 1122. If a situation is potentially life threatening, 911 should be contacted without hesitation. Fire infractions, namely large campfires, fireworks or burning during a fire ban, should be reported to 911 in order for the Fire Department to respond. Barking, vicious or running at large dog incidents should be reported directly to the By-law Officer at 519 793 3823 x235.

At this time, the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula does not have a specific bylaw that is applicable to Rented Cottages.

The following Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula bylaws with some amendments would be applicable to the current debate:

Noise Bylaw:  Bylaw 2018-37 Noise

Fireworks Bylaw:  Bylaw 2014-25 Discharge of Fireworks

Dog Bylaw: Bylaw 2019-08 Dog Regulations

Tent and Trailer Bylaw:  Bylaw 2018-66 Tent and Trailer

Bed and Breakfast: Bed and Breakfast bylaw