City hosts Open House on short-term rental licensing

On August 20, 2019, roughly 30 people attended an open house held by the City of Kingston about short-term rentals such at those found on sites like AirBNB and others. City staff is currently investigating options and soliciting feedback from residents as it works to complete work towards a licensing program.

Residents and property owners at the short term rental licensing open house on August 20, 2019. Photo by Tommy Vallier

Much of the presentation was led by Ben Poirier, Licensing and Enforcement Coordinator for the city, though other staff members from planning and building departments were available and spoke, as did Megan Knott, Executive Director for Tourism Kingston.

Under the proposed regulation, short term rental operators will be required to register and licence as a business ($172.00 annually) and can rent for stays no longer than 30 consecutive days and totaling no more than 180 days annually. Both primary residences and investment properties can be rented, with primary residences being restricted to 2 rooms and 4 tenants. No limit on where or how many short-term rental properties can operate in the city was proposed. Existing renters or residents bound by condo boards will be able to rent their property, but would require owner or condo board approval. All nights will be subject to the 4% Municipal Accommodation Tax to be paid by guests.

Residents were given the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments following the presentation. Many commented that the restriction of 180 total nights per year was too restricting, adding that the limit on rental length should be sufficient. Additional concerns regarding the cost and requirement of a business licence, purpose of the new regulation, bylaw enforcement and what regulations surrounding nuisance, safety, noise and property standards were raised by the audience, who regularly broke into applause to support other comments.

A group of residents speaking with staff and having their feedback recorded following a presentation on proposed short term rental licensing. Photo by Tommy Vallier

This process began in late 2018, with council directing staff to report in late 2019 with options and a proposed solution for a by-law. So far, staff completed an initial online survey and an introductory discussion session in the spring. Feedback and comments from this open house are being recorded by staff to further refine the proposal.

Residents who want to have their say in this issue can still complete an online survey on short-term rentals through the Get Involved Kingston portal.

The final staff report is expected to be presented to the Administrative Policy Committee this fall.

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