About the Project
The City is initiating a conversation about the emerging topic of short-term accommodations (i.e. vacation rentals or tourist rentals). Short-term accommodations are private, residential dwellings (or part of dwellings) that are rented to provide sleeping accommodations to a person or persons on a temporary basis (generally less than 28 days, with daily or weekly rates).
Staff is seeking feedback that will inform a future policy review of short-term accommodations. This future policy review may be to provide clarity to the existing permissions, or to provide a revised approach to target specific issues arising from the public feedback. Any zoning amendments will be forwarded to planning committee, and the public will have additional opportunity for comment during that statutory process. At this initial stage, the City is introducing the topic for discussion to create a dialogue around this topic.
The City has prepared background documents about the current status of short-term accommodations in Kingston and about what other communities have done to manage them.
The City is looking for feedback on short-term accommodations in Kingston through:
Frequently Asked Questions
What are short-term accommodations?
Short-term accommodations are residential, private dwellings that are rented to provide sleeping accommodations to a paying guest for a limited amount of time (generally less than 28 days). Short-term accommodations come in many forms. Some are similar to bed and breakfast accommodations, with the property owner present to host and share living space with the renters. Other accommodations are for an entire dwelling unit, where the property owner is not on-site and does not share space with the host. In general, short-term accommodations are to provide accommodation on a nightly or weekly basis, and are not intended for residential tenancy during the short-term rental period. It is a temporary arrangement and the tourist/travelers do not use the dwelling as a permanent home. There are many online platforms for short-term accommodations which have active listings for vacation rentals in Kingston, including Airbnb, VRBO, and others.
Are short-term accommodations allowed in Kingston?
Short-term accommodations are not defined in the City's zoning bylaws. However, there are restrictions in each zoning bylaw for how a private dwelling can be used. Zoning permissions limit the extent to which a private dwelling or rental unit can be made available to the rental market. Generally, the use of a residential unit is limited to a single family (i.e., one or more persons residing together and comprising a single domestic household) and up to three roomers or boarders. These limitations are largely intended to uphold compliance with Ontario Building Code (OBC) and Fire Code requirements which relate to life safety matters. The City's zoning bylaws do not regulate the length of time a residential unit may be rented.
Aren't short-term accommodations just a vacation town or big city phenomenon?
No, the emergence of Airbnb, VRBO, FlipKey and other short-term accommodation websites have created a global boom in short-term accommodations, and contrary to in the past, these rentals are spread all over the country. Kingston's short-term accommodation market is currently experiencing year-over-year growth in excess of 100 percent. Traditional residential communities that have never dealt with the consequences of transient populations are now facing the new opportunities and challenges presented by the short-term accommodation boom.
What should I do if I operate or want to operate a short-term accommodation?
Any persons wishing to operate a short-term accommodation should contact the City's Planning Department to understand applicable zoning constraints at 613-546-3180 ext. 3180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is also encouraged that anyone interested in operating a short-term accommodation should participate in our public discussion about short-term accommodations via the online survey and by attending the public workshop.
What options does the City have for regulating short-term accommodations?
There are two main avenues for regulating short-term accommodations: through zoning bylaws and through licensing requirements. How short-term accommodations are defined and restricted varies amongst jurisdictions. The main issues that other jurisdictions have identified in dealing with short-term accommodations include:
- Pressure on civic services;
- Impact on the cost or availability of housing;
- Impact on neighbours and neighbourhoods;
- Loss of municipal revenue (operating a commercial enterprise while paying residential property taxes); and
- Unfair competitive advantage over more regulated accommodators (hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts).
Some jurisdictions do not allow for short-term accommodations in residences at all. However it is more common to restrict the use under specified conditions, such as use of a principal residence only (i.e. let people rent their homes while they are away but the home is used as a residence most of the time), restrictions on rental of a whole unit (where the host is not present during the stay) by limiting how many days within a given year this can occur, or by limiting the zones within which short-term accommodations are permitted.
I am a short-term accommodation operator, how can I make sure my voice is heard?
All residents of Kingston, including short-term accommodation operators, are invited to participate in the public consultation process. There is a wide array of opinions and viewpoints regarding short-term accommodations, and the City wants to hear all perspectives. Planning Staff will be considering all feedback received during public consultation in their final information report, regardless of whether the feedback comes from a short-term accommodation owner or otherwise.