Short-term Rental Zoning Appeal & Regulations Update March 1, 2022
In April 2021, Council passed both a zoning by-law amendment and a new permitting by-law to allow for and regulate the short-term rental (STR) of principal residential dwelling units across the city, excepting certain zones where bed and breakfasts are already prohibited, as well as permissions for dedicated short-term rentals (aka Cottage Rentals) in certain rural zones. These by-laws were approved as a pilot project for a three-year period, which is the maximum allowable period for a temporary zoning by-law.
The permitting by-law was passed under the Municipal Act (2001) and is not subject to appeal, however the approval stipulated that both by-laws come into effect concurrently. The zoning by-law is passed under the Planning Act and is subject to appeal. The zoning by-law amendments were appealed on the basis of the following:
- The by-laws unlawfully extinguish non-conforming rights. The appeal suggests that non-principal residences providing accommodation on a short-term basis at the date of enactment may continue to do so.
- It is alleged that a zoning by-law cannot regulate land use based on duration of stay (a short-term rental is defined as transient accommodation for a period of less than thirty consecutive nights).
- It is alleged that the by-laws do not constitute good land use planning. The appeal states that there is no nexus between good land use planning and a requirement that only principal residences may offer short-term rental accommodation.
Implementation of the regulatory regime for short-term rentals has therefore been awaiting resolution of this appeal.
The subject appeal hearing (file no. OLT-21-001012) was heard on January 10th, 13th and 14th, 2022. During the hearing, the appellant refined their appeal to focus on the following issues:
- STRs without a principal residence (“PR”) requirement (known as “dedicated” STRs), should be allowed in mixed-use zones that permit both hotels and dwellings;
- The regulatory regime for STRs unlawfully restricts Legal Non-Conforming (LNC) rights for existing dedicated STRs;
- In the alternative to the above issues, four specific properties identified in evidence should be recognized as Legal Non-Conforming (LNC) uses and therefore lawful under the Zoning By-Law Amendments; and
- Section 2(5) of Zoning By-Law 106, which attempts to regulate the appearance and adverse effects of STRs, is not a proper zoning requirement and should be deleted.
During the hearing, Staff requested that the Tribunal revise the end date of the temporary zoning by-law in order to allow an effective full three-year trial period starting on the date of the Tribunal’s decision.
A decision was issued on January 24th, 2022, which upheld the STR zoning amendments with a housekeeping amendment respecting the spelling of the word ‘principal’ in the by-law. No exceptions were given to any property.
The requested amendment to the repeal date of the temporary by-law was not granted, therefore an extension of the temporary by-law will need to be passed by Council in the future to allow for a full three-year trial period.
Timing and Implementation
Both the STR permit by-law and the STR zoning amendments are now in force.
Applications for STR and Cottage Rental host permits are now being processed by By-law and Regulatory Services, as are registrations of STR platforms and property managers. Information about the application process and regulations can be found at:
This link will also be provided on social media messaging via Twitter and Facebook and shared among other accounts such as City of Ottawa. A direct newsletter will also be issued to platforms and hosts that have reached out seeking information on permits. A feature article is also planned for publication on Ottawa.ca with a link to the STR page for further information.
Prospective hosts will be encouraged to apply for their permits as soon as possible. Enforcement of the new STR permit regime and regulations will commence on April 1, 2022, to allow hosts opportunity to come into compliance.