Short-term Rental Licensing

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About the Project

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Thank you for taking the time to complete the online survey, attend the open house and share your questions and feedback for the City's proposed short-term rental licensing program. Staff have compiled the survey results and feedback collected, and will be including them as part of the staff report which will be presented to Council on Dec. 3, 2019.

The City is facilitating a discussion about the emerging topic of short-term accommodations (i.e. vacation rentals or tourist rentals) in Kingston. 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 30 days, with daily or weekly rates). 

Staff is seeking feedback that will inform a future business licensing process for short-term rental accommodations.

Project Timeline 

March 2018

  • Public consultation conducted, including an online survey and introductory community discussion session

April - May 2018

  • Staff review of consultation feedback and prepare report for Planning Committee consideration

Fall 2018

  • Statutory public meeting at Planning Committee
  • Recommendations went to Planning Committee

July - August 2019

  • Consultation begins on a proposed short-term rental licensing program 

December 2019

  • Findings, including survey results, are reported to council 

In November 2018, Council directed staff to establish a short-term rental licensing program and report back in 2019 with: a short-term rental licensing bylaw, amendments to the Municipal Accommodation Tax Bylaw to include short-term rentals and associated costs (see the council motion and minutes).

Engagement opportunities

The City is looking for feedback on short-term accommodations in Kingston through:

Frequently Asked Questions

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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/travellers 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 planning@cityofkingston.ca

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.

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