Ottawa

Nepean shooting top of mind for many as Ottawa finishes Airbnb rules

Public consultations are done and residents will get their first look at the proposed short-term rental rules in about two weeks.

Consultations on short-term rentals now done; report expected next month

Rob and Mandy Hanlon want the city to enforce stricter rules on Airbnb because of the string of bad behaviour at a short-term rental near their home, including a shooting last weekend. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Ottawans are about to get their first look at the city's plans to regulate short-term rentals.

Safety was a main concern at a town hall about the city's regulations Wednesday night, days after a shooting at an Airbnb-listed property in Nepean this weekend

"The shooting was really the worst case of what can happen," said Rob Hanlon, who lives next door to that property. 

"That was the straw broke the camel's back, obviously," Mandy Hanlon said.

"All summer it's been pretty rough. Just trying to get to sleep at night, the constant noise, the comings, the goings, the partying."

City staff are consulting on rules that could have Airbnb hosts register and require they be renting all or part of residence they regularly occupy. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Rob said the frustration has come from their complaints to the city and owner, who lives outside of the country, not getting the results they wanted.

"We believe [short-term rentals] should be owner-occupied and therefore there should be a registration process to prove you actually live in the residence," Rob said.

In a presentation, city staff said owner-occupied units are generally managed with more accountability and concerns for neighbours.

Target 'ghost hosts' instead

Airbnb hosts and some landlords interested in short-term rentals pushed back against the idea listings need to be occupied by owners or require hosts.

Carol Periera, a landlord and Airbnb host downtown, said the bad behaviour of "ghost hosts" should not ruin business for people who take care of their guests and neighbours.

Carol Periera, a landlord and Airbnb host, said she takes great pride in her positive reviews from guests and being a good neighbour. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"I think it's very narrow-minded to think that a principal residence is OK but an investment property is not," she said.

"If you vet people properly you will not have a problem."

Periera said Airbnb has allowed her to find a market for downtown properties that aren't attractive as long-term rentals.

Councillor supports requirement

Coun. Keith Egli said he supports a move toward an owner-occupancy requirement.

"We need a better system of checks and balances so a home is not bought for the sole purpose of being a revenue source," Egli said.

Coun. Keith Egli said he supports stricter rules on short-term rentals, such as Airbnb. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Egli said bylaw charges are coming against the owner of the Benson Street property.

"I think every ward has gotten complaints about noise, garbage and people parking illegally. What we saw on Benson was much much worse and we certainly don't want to see something like that ever happen again."

Airbnb told CBC in a statement that it has banned the guest who was involved in the incident and is in the process of reviewing the host.

It said it is ready to work with Ottawa police in their investigation and looks forward to working with hosts, council and staff on smart regulations that support "responsible home sharing."

Draft in early November

The city said there were 6,278 short-term rental listings in Ottawa as of 2018, following a spike in new listings during the Canada 150 celebrations

A consultant report said the city has seen an increase in complaints related to rentals, about 86 in 2018.

However, the report said the city receives an average of 1,879 complaints for rental properties in a year. 

The report said the city is concerned that the increasing commercialization of short-term rentals could affect housing stock.

The city report on short-term rental accommodation is expected for the next community and protective services committee meeting Nov. 15.

It will be posted online about a week before that.

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