RESPONSIBLE RENTING

St. Edmunds Property Owners, Inc. supports the idea and practice of RESPONSIBLE Short Term Rentals.

Historically, people, in Ontario, have spent vacations in cottages for over century.  Originally, only the affluent could afford to own a vacation home by the water where they would spend summer holidays. In their absence, friends and family enjoyed these summer residences. Today, with the proliferation of online rental platforms and increased affordability, anyone can search online to rent a waterfront vacation property.  This has led to numerous people 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. Property owners themselves are often the source of disturbances; owners themselves are not immune from exhibiting inconsiderate behaviour towards their neighbours, the community and the environment.

Short Term Accommodations in the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula continue to prompt debate around what should be a simple and manageable solution for dealing with the few problems actually identified with Short Term Accommodations. Noise, open fires, fireworks, barking dogs, garbage, parking, etc. are the source of most grievances. Large urban centres to small rural municipalities throughout Ontario are experiencing varying challenges related to the renting of short term accommodations. Managing by zero tolerance bylaw enforcement is employed by many smaller jurisdictions. Similarly, many municipalities have  collaborated with all stakeholders to establish a policy in which all parties have ownership.

The City of Kawartha Lakes, The Municipality of Tiny Township and the Township of Selwyn are worthy examples and templates for an approach that will work in the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula.  Similarly to the MNBP, they have a significant seasonal residential component. All three have elected to strictly enforce their bylaws while continually gathering data pending modifying their approach to STAs.

Neither Kawartha Lakes nor Tiny Township licenses 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 the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula (61 complaints over 3 years that did not specify renter or owner generated ) as reported by the MNBP. In these 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.

In both municipalities, when they investigated the cost of licensing 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 not a substitute for zero tolerance bylaw enforcement.

Licensing leads to regulating that necessitates inspections; how can you license without understanding and knowing what you are licensing? Possible legal action against the municipality is always possible in the case of overlooked owner negligence. Instead, zero tolerance bylaw enforcement is preferred. 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.

Facts about Cottage Rentals Facts about cottage rentals (003)

The City of Kawartha Lakes and The Municipality of Tiny Township  have developed and implemented  Short Term Rental policies.  They have opted for zero tolerance bylaw enforcement with fines for repeat offenders. This is exactly what is required in The Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula! Please take the time to open and to read the following links.

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 2020 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

Selwyn Township recently opted to increase their fines and enforcement on existing (fire, garbage, noise) bylaws vs. adding a specific set of rules for short term rentals.  http://www.selwyntownship.ca/en/residentservices/complaint-reporting-process.asp

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

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