North Bay considers regulating Airbnb-style rentals
North Bay city council is considering creating a bylaw to regulate the short-term rental industry, which includes Airbnb.
In a report headed to council Tuesday evening, city staff said the purpose of regulating the rentals include reducing conflict with neighbours and ensuring the short-term rental (STR) industry doesn't exacerbate current housing shortages.
One of the issues, the report said, is that such rentals have evolved from people renting their entire house while they were away, to people buying homes specifically to turn them into Airbnb-style rentals full-time.
STRs are popular in the north, with 87 properties in North Bay listed on Airbnb or VRBO, the top rental platforms. That compares to 181 in Greater Sudbury, 65 in the Sault and 33 in Timmins.
"Much of the rapid growth in the STR industry is the result of a shift in business model: from home-sharing to commercial operation," the report said.
"The impact of short-term rentals on housing deserves special attention, given the crisis-level housing pressures being felt in many communities and the status of adequate housing as a fundamental human right."
Another concern is the STR industry doesn't pay the hotel room tax, which raises concerns about whether there is a level playing field in the accommodation industry.
"A select few Ontario municipalities, including Brockville, Barrie, City of Greater Sudbury, Mississauga and Ottawa, have negotiated an agreement with Airbnb to collect and remit these taxes on behalf of guests and operators," the report said.
"For municipalities without agreements with platforms to collect and remit this tax, compliance rates have been low."
North Bay can learn from other communities that have passed STR bylaws, the report said, and should prioritize such things as minimizing conflicts between residents of a neighbourhood and people in a STR and finding a balance between accommodating the tourism industry and ensuring affordable housing.
The report said the city can either do nothing and allow STRs to continue unregulated, or direct staff to come up with a bylaw defining STRs, restricting them to certain zones and creating a licensing bylaw.
"This option should include public consultation to obtain feedback on the issues, concerns and opportunities for short-term rental regulations," the report said.
Read the full report here.