Last week at GC, Council discussed a proposed “Short Term Rental” By-law. Unlike many other municipalities, including some here in York Region, Aurora does not currently have policies, guidelines or by-laws to provide oversight of Short Term Rentals (Airbnb’s, VRBO, etc.). Residents and businesses owners have expressed concern about the potential impacts of unregulated Short Term Rentals. We have all heard about the bad actors in the “party house”, the house that gets rented for the night and a big, out of control party occurs. While we have not seen this issue come up in high volumes in Aurora, we have seen it happen in neighbouring municipalities; and where the outcome of the massive party has been far worse than just noise, broken tables and/or a mess around the house. In both Newmarket and Stouffville, we have seen house parties in Short Term Rentals end in violence and fatalities. This type of behavior associated with unregulated Short Term Rentals has prompted many municipalities across the GTHA to implement new Short Term Rental (STR) bylaw.
Rather than wait for a tragedy to take action, we as a municipality need to be proactive and put the necessary by-law in place that will set forth the rules/guidelines for the operation of a STR. As staff have advised, if we don’t move forward with a by-law and remain without one, we will become a destination where folks flock to these party houses – or worse. The proposed by-law will be in line with what other municipalities have either implemented or are in the process of implementing. STR operators will be required to obtain a license for an annual fee, and there will also be a one time fee for booking corporations (such as Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, etc.).
This by-law and fees have been developed in coordination with surrounding municipalities so that Aurora remains consistent with industry best practices, while also supporting local entrepreneurs.
I think we all appreciate and understand that allowing residents to rent rooms to make extra income or help pay for their property is a good thing and shouldn’t be discouraged, but at the same time we have an obligation to ensure that our community continues to remain safe and we do everything that we can do to minimize the potential negative impacts of Short Term Rentals in residential neighbourhoods.