New short-term rental by-law designed to help address housing shortage and community nuisances

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City Council today approved new regulations to govern short-term rentals across Ottawa over the next three years. The new Short-term Rental By-law establishes a host permit system for local short-term rental hosts, as well as rules for short-term rental platforms and property managers.

In line with a strategy that Council adopted in November 2019, the new by-law was designed to address community nuisance issues and concerns around public health and safety. Violations of the by-law could result in fines for both guests and host of up to $100,000 each day that an offence occurs. In addition, the City could suspend or revoke a host permit for violating the by-law.

To protect housing inventory for Ottawa residents, the by-law restricts short-term rentals to principal residences in urban residential zones and rural villages. Operators will need to get a host permit from the City proving the rental property is their principal residence. Some properties that are not a host’s principal residence would be permitted, but only in certain rural areas. Such properties would be defined separately as cottage rentals.

Council approved changes to the municipal housing benefit programs, which provides rent subsidies either directly to a landlord or as a housing allowance paid to a household. These programs are at capacity, and the approved changes will reallocate more than $2.3 million from other municipal housing programs and provincial funding programs, enabling the City to continue funding current recipients and take on new applicants.

The changes approved also include updating the City’s housing allowance framework to be consistent with current provincial housing benefits. With that change, new recipients of City housing benefits will be better able to afford the costs associated with securing and maintaining an affordable home in the private rental market.

Council approved the annual Tax Policy report that sets tax ratios for various tax classes for 2021 and the property tax due dates for 2022. The City will adopt neutral ratios and use all optional property classes permitted by the Assessment Act to allow for different taxation levels within a property class and minimize shifting the tax burden between tax classes.

The approved report will enable staff to continue tax mitigation measures aimed at keeping Ottawa affordable. Similar to those approved in previous years, this year’s measures include rebates to charitable organizations, deferral of taxes and water bills for low-income seniors and persons with disabilities and the farm grant program.

Staff will also work on creating a small business property tax subclass that could provide a 10-per-cent tax discount for about 4,700 commercial properties in Ottawa that house roughly 7,800 small businesses. The discount would be offset by an increase of 0.68 per cent for 7,300 large commercial and industrial properties. Staff will consult and report back with final recommendations by the end of the third quarter.

Council welcomed Ottawa’s newest Poets Laureate, who each recited a poem in recognition of National Poetry Month. Albert Dumont will take on the role of Ottawa’s English-language laureate for the 2021 to 2023 term, while Gilles Latour will serve as French-language laureate.

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