Committee authorizes report on regulations for short-term rentals

Airbnbs in the city may be in for some regulations. The Community and Protective Services Committee decided to have staff report back on regulatory options for short-term accommodations in the city. 

Councillors say short-term rentals, like Airbnbs, should be licensed like all other businesses

Short term accommodations are reserved via platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway. (Martin Bureau/Getty Images)

Airbnbs in London may be in for some regulations. 

London's Community and Protective Services Committee asked staff Tuesday to report back with regulatory suggestions to govern short-term accommodations in the city. 

At the meeting, Ward 9 Coun. Anna Hopkins presented a letter outlining some issues associated with short-term rental units. 

"Our neighbourhoods are starting to experience the noise, the garbage, the traffic and all those things are changing our neighbourhoods," she said.

"These houses are not owner-occupied," she said. "We're seeing concern in our neighbourhoods for large parties. [Houses] are being used as hotels."

"There's no one really there to make sure that the concerns in the neighbourhood are being met, other than calling the police and it tends to disrupt the neighbourhood," she said. 

Hopkins suggested that councillors also need to think about housing opportunities that Londoners could be missing out on because of short-term accommodations. 

 Ward 2 Coun. Shawn Lewis also shared this concern, addressing potentially unoccupied homes.

"If we have a home that's sitting empty Monday to Thursday and is only being used because someone has rented it for the weekend, that's a place someone could be living in," he said. "It's unfairly driving people out of the housing market to the profit to someone who's not a resident of London."

Lewis added that, just like other businesses, short-term rentals should be regulated. 

"The folks who are operating these rentals are running a business out of their home, whether they live in their home or not, and we license every other business in the city," he said.

London hotels charge guests a four per cent municipal accommodation tax that goes to the city, for example.

"I don't think we're supporting a fair playing field," Lewis said. 

Concerns about London's short-term rental properties aren't new. 

Council previously received a report on such accommodations in 2018. At the time, short-term rentals weren't as much of a concern and were eventually put on a list of deferred items. The item was dropped from the list in January. 

"It wasn't a widespread problem yet in London, yet I had, at that time, an Airbnb in ward 5," said Coun. Maureen Cassidy, who chairs the London's Community and Protective Services Committee.

"I feel like I let the ball drop on this one."


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