The City of Winnipeg has released recommendations for new short-term rental accommodation (STRA) regulations, and so far, reactions have been mixed.
In a report released by the City, proposed regulations include limiting the number of nights tenants can stay, taxation, licensing, limitations on the number of properties an owner can rent out short-term, where owners can rent, and platforms that can be used.
Owners would also be required to have a criminal-record check, meet safety standards, and have their name and phone number posted in the residence.
Michael Tyas, vice president of the Manitoba Association of Short-Term Rental Owners, says licensing and taxation are welcome changes.
“I welcome the opportunity to be licensed and legitimized by the city through licensing and regulation. It excites me to think that the city can utilize the statistics that they gain from the types of people that we host, and how long we host them, in order to improve the city services, and to work from a perspective where they actually understand what’s happening,” he said.
However, Tyas said some of the regulations are restrictive and miss the mark, such as capping licenses at three per short-term rental ownership, and zoning limitations.
He said short-term rental accommodations are often considered competition for hotels but said this is not the case and that short-term rentals offer a vastly different product.
“We are not a hotel competitor, we offer unlimited tenancy, turnkey accommodations for people doing life, paying out of their own pocket at the price that they can afford, and with the accommodation, the size and space that they need.”
Tyas said, “We are housing, we are time-limited tenancy, and we should be embraced.”
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Winston Yee, manager of licensing and bylaw enforcement with the City of Winnipeg, said they are still STRAs.
“Whatever form it comes in, they are still short-term rental accommodations, and they use platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO.
Yee said the differences between a hotel and STRA were accounted for in setting licensing fees.
“That reduced value is to address the fact that they would (provide) less amenities. Likely no restaurant on site, no cocktail lounge, maybe a pool, but perhaps many of them don’t have them.”
Yee said the regulations will hopefully create equity in the accommodations industry.
However, Tyas said he is concerned equity will drop when it comes to housing affordability and availability, as people will not have as many STRAs to go to because of licensing caps.
“Short term rental accommodation have opened up the opportunity for the middle class to be mobile and are going to be an increasingly necessary product for the middle class that they’ll have to utilize in uncertain times as inflation is increasing, and dollars are strained.”
He said over his time renting his own home, he has mostly hosted newcomers who need transitional housing while they get accustomed to life in Winnipeg and pull together documents they need.
He also hosts students and people looking to upgrade their education, who can’t afford to live elsewhere.
Tim Austin, director and city assessor with the City of Winnipeg’s assessment and taxation, said the City is estimating that there will be 900 short term rental units in Winnipeg.
“We’ll have to wait and see how many actually apply for the license,” he said. It is uncertain how many are currently operating.
Annual licensing for primary residences would cost $260, and $260 per bedroom for non-primary residences being rented, Yee said.
Tyas said renting out his home is more than just a financial endeavor, and that hospitality is at the heart of his work.
“Providing accommodations to weary travelers is one of the oldest industries in the world and I take pride (in it), and it truly does make me emotional to think about the lives that I’ve touched and the stories that I’ve shared with people from all around the world on the pilgrimage of life.”
Yee said he hopes the proposed regulations will build on these themes of hospitality.
“Our regulations are in place to create a safe environment for everyone and create a successful environment,” he said.
Yee said the regulations will allow for better bylaw enforcement with higher consequences, as police will be able to refer to the City for additional regulatory action, like added tickets for noise disruptions or fights.
The report listing Winnipeg’s recommended regulations can be found on the City of Winnipeg’s website.
New short-term rental regulations proposed
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