The Toronto Star recently reported that the corporate owner of a home rented on Airbnb (that was the scene of a shooting this summer) pleaded guilty to a zoning violation. It was not the shooting that led to the charges, but violation of the zoning. We can expect to see more enforcement and prosecutions across the province as municipalities try to reign in short-term rentals and adapt to the sharing economy.
Zoning for Short Term Rental
The use of zoning is the most common tool that municipalities have to control short terms rentals, and prescribing minimum length of tenancies (for example 30 days) tends to be a common approach. The Town of Blue Mountains started the trend of regulating short term accommodation in 2008 in an effort to limit the disturbance caused by weekend warrior partiers in and around Blue Mountain Resort. The Ontario Municipal Board, and ultimately the courts, upheld this limitation.
While the ways in which zoning is used to regulate short term rentals will vary from municipality to municipality, one common denominator is the maximum fine which, under the Planning Act, is set at $25,000 for an individual or $50,000 for a corporation, for a first offence.
Sentencing in this Toronto case has been put over until January and we will stay tuned to see what sort of fine is imposed. If you are considering renting any part of your home through Airbnb or any other short-term rental site, be sure to check the rules in your municipality to ensure you are in compliance. Our Municipal Law Practice Group can help guide you through this process, or assist if you are charged with a zoning or licensing infraction.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstance.