UPDATE to article:

On Monday, September 30, Calgary City Council voted to create a new tiered licensing scheme for short-term rentals.

Read journalist Licia Corbella’s take on the new bylaw.

Original post:

Later this month, the City of Calgary is expected to pass a bylaw requiring short-term rentals to secure business licences. The City’s Community & Protective Services Committee considered the bylaw after hearing concerns of residents, the AHLA, the Calgary Hotel Association (CHA) and short-term rental owners — many of whom are Airbnb Superhosts. The City estimates that Calgary is home to roughly 6,000 short-term rental properties. The move comes within a month of Edmonton introducing a similar bylaw.

The bylaw would create a tiered business licence structure for short-term rentals. “While the tiered licence category proposed is a good start, it is just that – a start,” said Tracy Douglas-Blowers, Director of Membership & Industry Relations for the AHLA. “The proposed structure overlooks an entire segment of short-term rentals: those which operate on a commercial scale. Given that 80 per cent of Airbnb’s revenue in Calgary comes from whole-home rentals, not the rental of individual rooms in a home or condominium, this appears to be a significant gap in the proposed bylaw.”

True home-sharing occurs in the owner’s principal residence. Multi-property owners who convert residential units into “ghost hotels” evade the normal costs of doing business and create additional demands on municipal services such as police, waste removal, and bylaw enforcement. These commercial operators compete directly with legitimate hotels, which are subject to labour, health, and zoning laws; employ Albertans; and pay municipal, provincial, and federal taxes.

“Taxpaying Calgarians are, in fact, subsidizing these business owners, who pay residential property taxes on their commercial enterprises,” pointed out Douglas-Blowers. She gave the example of Calgary resident Braydon Ross, who refers to himself as “Mr. Airbnb.” As of April 2019, Ross was managing more than 100 properties. “Why should Calgarians be subsidizing Mr. Airbnb by allowing his business to pay residential property tax rates?”

In addition to the proposed tiered business licence fee, the AHLA has asked the City of Calgary to explore:

  1. Additional bylaw changes for short-term rentals that mitigate neighbourhood issues.
  2. Mechanisms to recover some of the property tax lost by the City of Calgary when commercial short-term rental operators shift revenue away from hotels, whose property tax assessments are based on their room revenues.
  3. Limiting short-term rentals to the owners’ principal residences.
  4. Requiring platforms to register with the City, which would only list those rentals with a valid business licence.

The AHLA will continue to work with the City of Calgary, as well as our members in Calgary, to ensure fair rules for short-term rentals. We encourage members in Calgary to contact their City Councillors to show their support for the proposed bylaw, and call for the changes we suggest above.

Related items:

Presentation to City of Calgary Community & Protective Services Committee by the AHLA

Presentation to City of Calgary Community & Protective Services Committee by Leanne Shaw, AHLA Board Chair

Video from Calgary Community & Protective Services Meeting

City of Calgary Short Term Rental Scoping Report (covers tiered licensing)

Regulation of short-term rental properties in Edmonton

Vote Fair Rules (Hotel Association of Canada)


Media Coverage: