Short-term rental owners in Aurora may need a business license

Staff also recommend that those renting out their properties post a sign indicating that they are short-term rentals, bed and breakfast

If you’re looking to make some extra money by renting out a property — or even a room — on a short-term basis, the City of Aurora may soon require you to obtain a business license.

The potential need for a license is one of the recommendations of a staff report looking at ways to “ensure the security, maintenance and upkeep” of licensed properties, including those listed on platforms like Airbnb .

A key recommendation is to require that “all short-term rentals (STRs) and bed and breakfasts obtain a business license and post a sign on their property to identify the premises as an STR business”.

“Over the past few years, STRs have grown steadily in communities across North America as an alternative to traditional lodging options,” said Alexander Wray, chief claims services officer, in a report to the advice this week. “This increased growth has raised concerns in the community regarding public safety, property maintenance and noise impacts in Aurora neighborhoods.

“This provision will require the City of Aurora to approve, and a license exists for, STR or bed and breakfast accommodation. It also ensures that the community is aware that a business exists on the premises and can allow complaints of non-compliance to be filed.

Other recommendations, if ultimately approved by council at the end of this month, will limit one approved STR or bed and breakfast to one lot or accommodation on one lot, require one off-street parking space for each bedroom and will establish a maximum of six people and three bedrooms for STR use.

“This provision [to limit one STR per lot] will only allow one type of business to be operated on the property. For example, an operator cannot rent the ground floor and basement apartments at the same time. This will help minimize community concerns by limiting the number of STR reservations and housing units allowed to be rented. [Parking requirements] will help reduce on-street parking issues related to STR’s business practices. This policy (on maximum number of guests) is intended to significantly minimize community impacts such as house parties, noise, litter and general nuisance behavior.

If approved, Licensee must be available to respond to any complaints within two hours of notification. This, Wray says, is to ensure operators are held accountable to their properties and can respond to any concerns from the municipality and local emergency services.

A demerit point system could also be put in place for license holders following complaints.

“This requirement will help ensure continued compliance with other relevant municipal bylaws and provincial laws,” Wray said. “For example, if a noise complaint is received and found to be valid, the property will accrue demerit points on its license. This process aims to hold operators accountable and ensure continued compliance with provincial laws and regulations while mitigating impacts on the community at large.

“Once the predetermined demerit point threshold is reached, the operator may have their license suspended or revoked and will no longer be eligible to operate an STR or bed and breakfast business in Aurora. The decision to reinstate, add terms, or permanently revoke the license is within the jurisdiction of the Aurora Appeals Tribunal, in accordance with existing provisions set forth in the License and Appeals Tribunal Rules.

Data gathered by the city estimates that there are between 56 and 115 unique STR properties in Aurora, numbers that fluctuate seasonally. Such rentals can cost an average of $113 per night and 68% of these opportunities were classified as single-family homes.

“Sixty-four percent of listings advertise the entire house for rent,” Wray said. “That translates to, on average, between 36 and 74 full property listings at any given time. Short-term rental companies that market, advertise or facilitate STR bookings through their platforms will need to apply for and obtain an annual business license with a one-time license fee of $5,000. A standard fee of $1 for each night booked through STR will be remitted to the city. This specific licensing requirement aligns with the City of Toronto and the Town of Newmarket and staff recommends a consistent approach for the City of Aurora to offset administrative costs associated with monitoring and enforcing STRs. Additionally, the staff recommends an annual license fee of $400 per STR. »

Staff predict that if the program is approved, the new measures could return between $16,000 and $32,000 to city coffers each year.

Brock Weir is a federally funded Local Journalism Initiative reporter at The Auroran

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