Saskatoon

Saskatoon council to discuss options on regulating Airbnb rentals

Saskatoon councillors will be talking about how short-term accommodations should be regulated in the future.

Options include business licences for homes, outright bans for short-term rentals

Saskatoon city council will be discussing options around regulating short-term rentals, including properties listed on the website Airbnb. Seen here, the company's headquarters in San Francisco. (Gabrielle Lurie/Reuters)

Saskatoon councillors will be talking about how short-term accommodations like Airbnb should be regulated at a meeting on Tuesday.

According to a city report, the number of short-term rentals has spiked across the city. In October, there were 610 Saskatoon listings on airbnb.com, an increase of more than 500 since 2015.

Now, city administration has drafted several preliminary options to regulate the rentals. 

The report makes a distinction between people who rent their primary home out versus people who buy housing primarily for short-term rentals.

One option would to completely prohibit short-term accommodations, while another would require them to be approved for discretionary use, except in areas with a high concentration of apartment buildings.

Both options would ask for a business licence for anyone renting their property out to people.

Jim Bence, president of the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association, said it's only fair that short-term rentals are regulated.

"We operate by the rules," he said. "We have regulations and we've got safety [requirements] that are involved."

Bence said the association isn't concerned with homeowners renting out part of their own homes. However, he said it becomes concerning when landlords start buying properties purely to rent out on a short-term basis.

 "That's where it becomes a commercial operation," said Bence.

'At the discretion of the homeowner'

Other potential rules include a maximum number of guests allowed in short-term accommodations, depending on size, and mandatory paved on-site parking.

Adam Clarkson has rented out his primary home in Saskatoon for the past two years. He said short-term rentals are here to stay.

"As long as it's a detached dwelling situation, I don't see what negative consequences there could be be on the neighbourhood or the neighbours," he said.

"It's really at the discretion of the homeowner."

He said he wouldn't have a problem with getting a business licence and obeying any rules the city put forward.

"If the City of Saskatoon can come up with a policy that is affordable, reasonable and takes people's safety into consideration, I fully support it and would be happy to play ball."

For the past four years, council has been looking at regulating short-term rentals.

In 2017 and again in October of this year, the city held public engagement sessions to find out what people in Saskatoon thought about the issue.

City administration said a full report will be coming next year. For now, administration isn't providing a recommended option.

The report will be presented at the standing policy committee on planning, development and community services on Tuesday.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the report will be presented at the standing policy committee on planning, development and community services on Monday. In fact, the meetng is on Tuesday.
    Dec 02, 2019 8:04 AM CT

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