Regulating Short-Term Rentals
The City of Winnipeg (the City) is exploring regulations to mitigate negative impacts and concerns caused by short-term rentals. Community concerns include impacts on housing market and rental housing, noise, safety, and loss of sense of community.
Short-term rentals are temporary accommodations (less than 30 consecutive days) in a dwelling such as an apartment, house, or condominium, provided by a property owner or principal tenant in exchange for payment. Common short-term rental platforms include Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. Municipalities have also recognized the value and benefits of short-term rentals, including contributions to the local economy, providing adaptable accommodation options, and an additional source of income.
The City wants to hear from Winnipeg residents and people in the short-term rentals and related industries to learn more about concerns and opportunities related to short-term rentals to determine the best way to approach regulations.
Types of Regulations
The following is an overview of the regulations being explored.
The City’s accommodation tax places a 5% tax on room accommodations within Winnipeg. Currently, the accommodation tax applies to hotels, but does not apply to bed & breakfasts or short-term rentals.
The revenue from the accommodation tax goes to the Destination Marketing Reserve Fund, which supports organizations, projects, and special events that encourage tourists to visit Winnipeg.
The total accommodation tax revenue generated by hotel stays in 2019 was $10.0 million, from approximately 125 hotels. There are an estimated 700 short-term rental hosts in Winnipeg using online platforms that do not collect an accommodation tax. If they contributed the 5% accommodation tax, it is estimated it would generate an additional $150,000 in revenue.
Short-term rental hosts may be required to obtain a licence to operate their units. The process for acquiring a licence typically includes an application, which can assist with education and accountability, and offers a method to intervene or for enforcement if there are issues or concerns. Licensing approaches commonly include:
- A licensing fee
- Simple and easy-to-navigate licensing processes (online/mobile friendly)
- Licence number posted in the rental unit and on all advertisements and listings
- Options to licence each unit individually (if multiple units per host are allowed)
- Proof of primary residency (if short-term rentals are limited to primary residences only)
- Annual licence renewals
- Annual fire inspection and fire & safety requirements
- Ability to document and enforce non-compliance (e.g., screenshots of offending listings)
- Mechanism to monitor complaints and address violations
- Fair and effective enforcement
Additional requirements for obtaining a licence and rules for operating a short-term rental may include:
- Maximum licence limits for a host/operator
- Maximum number of days that a dwelling or unit is rented per year (for example, 180 max.)
- Noise requirements
- Emergency contact information
- Safety plan or emergency exit plan
- Designated local contact who will respond to complaints, emergencies, and inquiries immediately
- Neighbour communications and notifications
Land Use and Zoning
Every property in the city of Winnipeg has a specific zone, which outlines how the land may be used or developed, such as “R1” Residential Single-family district or “C1” Commercial District. In each zone, certain activities or buildings are permitted, some uses require approval, and some uses are prohibited. There are also rules, such as the location and the size of buildings, minimum parking limits, or required landscaping.
The City currently has zoning for hotels and bed and breakfast businesses, but does not have zoning for short-term rentals. The City is considering allowing short-term rentals in all neighbourhoods and all dwelling types, and that short-term rentals operations would not be regulated based on property type, dwelling type, or neighbourhood.
Enforcement will ensure that neighbourhood livability standards are being met and to promote and maintain the health, safety and well-being of residents. These standards include noise, waste, and litter.
Enforcement of short-term rental regulations will be similar to other licensing in the City, with inspections taking place in response to complaints or as any non-compliance issues are identified by the City.
Enforcement begins with an inspection, followed by an outline of actions that need to be taken to meet licensing requirements. If a host or operator does not remedy the issues, it may lead to temporary licence suspensions or licences being revoked.
Community By-law Enforcement Services are responsible for Licence Services and Property and Neighbourhood Standards.