On August 20, the City of Edmonton’s Urban Planning Committee considered the issue of short-term rentals. According to city administration’s report, short-term rentals in Edmonton have grown steadily, as evidenced by the increase in listings from 44 in 2014 to 2,420 as of May 2019. Data from the 2019 listings includes the following:
- 2,146 rental units, of which 63% are entire units, 36% are private rooms, and 1% are shared rooms;
- Rental units are located throughout the city, with the highest number of units being in the downtown area; and
- 1,434 hosts, of whom 82% operate only one unit, indicating to administration that commercial scale short-term rental hosts are not prevalent.
Bylaw 18942 creates the Short-Term Residential Rental Accommodation business licence classification, which is defined as providing a portion or all of a private residence for rent for 30 consecutive days or less. The following conditions will apply:
- Requirement for the licensee (host) to provide the guest with an approved information guide relating to the City’s bylaws and to post a contact telephone number on the rental property.
- Prohibition of unlicensed business activity. This would prohibit any person from engaging in or operating a business from a short-term residential property, unless a licence has been issued for that business activity.
- Notification to Alberta Health Services (AHS). The City will notify AHS whenever a Short-Term Residential Rental Accommodation licence is issued so that AHS can follow up on compliance with health regulations.
- Fees & Fines. The proposed fee for the Short-Term Residential Rental Accommodation business licence is $92. The fine for failing to meet a condition under the licence classification is $2,000.
After hearing from Airbnb hosts, neighbours, and representatives of the hotel industry, including AHLA member Michael Shandro and the AHLA’s Director of Membership & Industry Relations, Tracy Douglas-Blowers, council’s Urban Planning Committee recommended the bylaw be passed, but asked that Administration explore potential bylaw changes to manage concerns regarding short-term rentals, including:
- a development permit process for “entire rental” properties;
- increased property tax rates, fees, or levies in lieu for “entire rental” properties;
- measures to hold online rental platforms accountable to complaints raised about hosts;
- the potential for an additional fee to be directed to support affordable housing and tourism; and
- complaint thresholds that would result in licence suspension and/or removal.
“This sector of Edmonton’s accommodation industry has increased by 5,400 per cent in just five years…. The AHLA encourages this committee, council, and administration to consider the impact of commercial scale short-term rentals on the property tax base,” said Douglas-Blowers. “According to a 2018 report by Altus Group, Edmonton’s commercial property tax rate is 2.44 times the residential property tax rate. Those who operate commercial short-term rentals in residential properties benefit from a significantly lower tax rate, even as they lower the value of traditional hotels that play by the rules, employ Edmontonians, and pay commercial property taxes.”
The motion was passed at the City of Edmonton’s council meeting on August 27. The AHLA will continue to work with our members in Edmonton to ensure fair rules for short-term rentals.
As for Edmonton’s neighbours to the south, the City of Calgary’s administration is expected to present a new, tiered business licence category for Tourist Accommodation through the Standing Policy Committee on Community & Protective Services on September 11. The AHLA will be representing our members at the committee meeting.