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Rise of Airbnb Rentals Raising Concerns for Ottawa Property Management

Short-term rental sites, like Airbnb, are in the rise in Ottawa and throughout Ontario. Airbnb has been convenient for travelers who can use their smart phones to book reasonably priced accommodation on the go, while providing some easy income for rental hosts; however, some hosts are getting carried away and turning their residential properties into a business, sometimes creating disturbances and safety issues for neighbours and other tenants.

Airbnb and Ottawa Property Management Implications
The issue has caught the attention of the courts in Ontario, and city counselors in Ottawa and is on the minds of Landlords and property managers as well.

Ontario Court Rules on Airbnb Usage in Condos

In December 2016, Ontario court judge Justice Beaudoin ruled that condominium buildings in Ontario have the right to ban Airbnb rentals, and short-term rental postings on other similar sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, and Kayak. This ruling also sets a precedent that will likely extend to apartment real estate and hold in most other provinces.

Justice Beaudoin ruled that renting out a single condominium on a short-term leasing site like Airbnb violates the Ontario Condominium Act. In this particular case, the couple renting out their unit on Airbnb were found to be violating key provisions of their lease, such as the stipulation that they couldn’t lease their unit for less than four months. This is similar to past court cases that allowed buildings to enforce similar clauses, but this is the first time a ruling has been made about short-term rental sites.

In his ruling, Justice Beaudoin wrote that putting a unit on short-term rental sites means it no longer qualifies as a “single family unit.” Instead, he believes that renting them out on short-term rental sites is more akin to using the space as if one is operating and running a business. Currently, Airbnb rental of apartments in Ontario can be found to violate the Residential Tenancies Act, which limits subletting by tenants. With the precedent established by Beaudoin’s ruling, Airbnb rentals by tenants in multi-residential buildings may come under fire in the future as well.

At Primecorp we adhere to the Residential Tenancies Act and if a tenant needs to sublet their apartment for some time then we go through all the same steps as we would with a new tenant. The subletter will have to fill out an application and get a credit check before their name will be added to the Lease. Both parties will be responsible for any damage or unpaid rent.

Interpretation of the law still needs to be worked out. Landlords and building owners will, most likely, be able to set their own short-term rental rules without changes to the court ruling, which has significant implications for the multi-residential building industry in Ontario.

Ottawa Also Looking Into Airbnb Usage to See if Existing Bylaws are Adequate

The city of Ottawa is also looking into various issues stemming from the increased use of short-term rental sites like Airbnb to see if existing bylaws adequately protect the rights of neighbours and tenants in close proximity to short-term rental units. Some short-term rental hosts are catering to large and boisterous groups who may be negatively impacting the peace of the surrounding neighbourhood, creating unwanted disturbances and increasing safety concerns:

Coun. Diane Deans said she’s received complaints from a group of residents about an Airbnb listing in Hunt Club Park, and that it has required the combined efforts of bylaw enforcement and legal services to attempt to resolve the issues.

“For the residents, it’s loud noises, people yelling at night, throwing beer bottles over the fence, throwing cigarette butts on the street,” Deans said.

The Airbnb host is also accepting large groups into their basement, which raises questions about building code and fire safety, she said. – CBC

Vancouver and Toronto are also looking at regulating the short-term rental market in their municipalities and possibly introducing some form of licensing to prevent people from “buying housing stock to use as Airbnb income properties.”

For their part, Airbnb has a site called Neighbourhood Tool where neighbours can register complaints about Airbnb unit hosts so the company can try to resolve any issues that arise or even suspend Airbnb hosts for repeated complaints.

Get Primecorp Property Management in Your Corner

As a proactive property management company in Ottawa, Primecorp Property Managment is committed to staying abreast of developing issues which may impact residents in our buildings or the landlords we partner with, looking for win-win situations for everyone’s benefit wherever possible.

We help companies and individuals manage their multi-family and buildings long-term rental units. Contact us to learn more about our professional property management services… we’d love to hear from you!