Short term rentals could be funded through licenses; plans for inspections could happen as early as this summer
Despite considerable pushback from numerous short-term rental owners, Kawartha Lakes council has decided to take another step forward with its plan to license and inspect the 600-800 short-term rentals (STRs) in the city, possibly beginning as soon as the summer of 2023.
One part of the new enforcement structure that came in for council scrutiny at the April 4 Committee of the Whole meeting was how the costs of the licensing and inspection of STRs would be paid for.
Aaron Sloan, manager of bylaw enforcement and licensing services, made it very clear in his brief to council that after a possible first year funding shortfall caused by only an expected 40 per cent compliance rate from STR owners in 2023, all costs incurred by the city due to licensing and inspection of between 600-800 currently existing STRs will be paid for exclusively by the establishment owners themselves starting in 2024.
“Municipal law enforcement and licensing services utilize a tax and license supporting budget,” Sloan said. “Licensing historically has a budget that is primarily supported by licensing fees collected across numerous programs in place. If council adopts a STR licensing bylaw creating a new program, staff is recommending that the program is supported by direct STR fees to offset any dependence on general property tax collection.”
Sloan told council that a new program that would feature licensing and inspection comes with almost $400,000 worth of new costs for the city that include new staff, equipment, print media advertising, a website and software licensing payments.
Sloan said the number of additional staff is based on the high number of STRs currently operating in Kawartha Lakes.
“In Huntsville, who have approximately 250 STRS, they have hired an administrator and an inspector to support their operational needs,” Sloan said.
Sloan suggests that in Kawartha Lakes the city will need to hire one additional administrative assistant to handle front counter service and invoicing, two licensing enforcement officers to provide direct inspection, licensing approvals, education and enforcement services with shifts that occur on weekends, and one more municipal law enforcement officer who will connect the STR program to the other nuisance bylaw regulations and processes that are functions that occur outside licensing service.
To support the three new officers in the field a new vehicle will have to be purchased and maintained. Other sundry costs including uniforms, personal electronic equipment and training, bring the costs to the previously stated $400,000.
Sloan proposes to council that a STR license for a hosted building be $300 per year, while a license for an un-hosted building will be $1,200. Based on 300 hosted and 300 un-hosted STRs the licensing fees alone would raise $450,000 for the city, easily covering the costs proposed by Sloan and by-law staff. Any appeals by STR owners will cost them $400 per appeal. Fines based on last year’s 138 STR complaints would raise another $25,000 for the city.
Council will review the proposals from bylaw at their next regular council meeting on April 18. If it passes, there will be a roll-out of the new licensing and inspection regimen beginning as soon as staff are in place.