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Short Term Rental Accommodation

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 Currently in Yellowknife, Short Term Rental Accommodation (STR) is only allowed in hotels and bed&breakfasts. Despite these rules, there has been a rapid growth in Yellowknife, of nightly rentals on marketing platforms such as Airbnb in recent years. As with any transformational change, there are risks, benefits and unintended consequences that need to be managed, and important trade-offs to be considered. The city needs a fair approach that maximizes the benefits of STRs while managing impacts on neighbourhoods and providers of licensed accommodation.

Proposed approach:

Based on what we heard during the first round of public engagement, and a comparative analysis of what has been done  in other cities, city staff developed the following guidelines to create a regulatory framework for short term rental accommodation (STR).

  • Administration recommends that new STR regulations in Yellowknife allow owners and renters to obtain a business licence to rent part or all of their property on a short-term basis.    
  • Administration does not recommend setting a cap on the maximum number of rental nights per year.  Tracking and enforcing a nightly rental cap is extremely difficult and poses a high administrative burden with unpredictable results.
  • Adopt a clear definition of STRs, BnBs,
  • Owner must demonstrate control by providing a copy of title or tax assessment and renter must provide signed tenancy agreement and permission from owner.  Allowing property owners to rent portions of their homes, or rent their entire home on a limited basis, strikes a balance between flexibility for individual homeowners and protections for the broader community.
  • A short-term rental must be licensed before it can be advertised or rented. STR operators must include the City-issued registration number in any advertisement and in any invoice or contract related to the short-term rental
  • All residences must meet the requirements of applicable legislation prior to a business licence being issued.
  • Residents can apply for a short-term rental business licence online
  • The proposed by-law is intended to provide better management of short-term rentals and should not result in a measurable negative fiscal impact to the City. Fees for licensing are intended to cover the costs of administration. Licences fees not exceeding $100 and same fee applies for BnB’s (to be addressed in business license by-law review)
  • A communications plan be developed to inform and educate the public and STR operators of upcoming changes
  • Existing short-term rental operators who would otherwise qualify to operate a short-term rental have until January 1, 2019 to obtain a short-term rental licence and enter it in their listing.
  • As of January 1, 2019 anyone listing a short-term rental without a posted business licence will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per day and potentially other enforcement or legal action.
  • Short-term rental of a secondary suite will be allowed, provided it is where the operator principally lives.
  • short-term rentals are permitted across the city in all housing types in residential and mixed-use zones

Definition

City staff proposes the following definition for Short Term Rental Accommodation:

a home-based business whereby temporary accommodation (the entire home or a room in the home) is provided for compensation to members of the public for less than 30 days at a time.

This definition applies to regular bed& breakfasts and short term rentals marketed on online platforms such as Airbnb, whether or not the operator is present, and whether or not breakfast is provided. 

Next Steps

On July 16, 2018, Council endorsed the proposed policy approach and directed city staff to consult with stakeholders and the public to refine these guidelines to allow STR in Yellowknife. Your input will help draft the rules for STRs in Yellowknife.

Once finalised, the results of this engagement will be presented to council, and available on our public consultation page 

To learn more:

 

 Participate in the survey before September 30, 2018:

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