City of Ottawa – Rental Accommodations Study

Overview

As a component of the 2018 Operating Budget, Council approved $300,000 towards a Rental Accommodation Regulation Study (the “Study”). This study will provide Council with advice and recommendations concerning a regulatory regime for private rental housing, newer short-term rental services such as Airbnb or Flipkey, and traditional hospitality providers such as hotels and motels.

Scope

This Study will provide Council with recommendations concerning existing City by-laws, as well as new policy areas such as potential regulations for landlords and short-term rental accommodations, such as Airbnb and VRBO.

This Study will consider existing and potential regulations in terms of how they influence three key housing considerations: Quality, Availability and Affordability.

The Study is focused on how we regulate accommodations. It does not address planning, social programs, or funding for affordable housing. However, the Rental Accommodations Working Group is coordinating activities between each of these areas.

Issues

Rental Housing: The Study will examine all existing by-laws related to private market rental housing in an effort to provide consistent and enforceable standards. However, as we seek to improve the quality of rental housing in the City, it is essential that we consider the cost impacts of regulations on tenants and landlords, as well as any impact regulations have on the availability of rental units.

Short-Term Rentals: Short-term rentals through platforms such as Airbnb and Flipkey have become more prevalent. While they may create economic opportunities for some, there are corresponding community impacts that must be addressed. There is also concern that full-time rentals, so called “ghost hotels”, are taking homes off the market and driving up costs.  The City has gathered extensive data in this area and is looking at promising approaches from other jurisdictions to develop a local solution to our local issues and challenges.

Student Housing and Shared Accommodations: The City has already made significant progress on this issue with new planning rules to limit the construction of “bunkhouses” and changes to rooming house licensing that were completed in 2018. This Study will build on that success and consider what additional regulations may be required to meet the housing needs of students and others in shared living arrangements while managing the impacts of intensification in surrounding neighbourhoods.

Hotels, Motels and traditional Bed and Breakfasts: As the City considers a regulatory framework for short-term rentals like Airbnb and Flipkey, the City is also reviewing regulations for traditional forms of hospitality accommodations. This review will examine provincial and local regulations and enforcement history to identify and address any gaps in consumer protection, public health and safety or other areas of municipal concern.

Consultations

The Study includes a robust consultation strategy that collects input from policy experts and stakeholders such as landlords and tenant groups, professional organizations, BIAs and community associations.

Extensive public consultations will be conducted over the course of the review. Maclaren Municipal Consulting will be conducting workshops for interested residents across the City beginning on May 22. A schedule and registration details are available on ottawa.ca.

Residents are encouraged to complete an online survey on rental accommodations, available on ottawa.ca until June 30th. A second round of consultations will occur this fall, where residents will be able to express their views on specific regulatory proposals.

Organizations that would like more information can contact Jerrod Riley, By-law Review Specialist at jerrod.riley@ottawa.ca or 613-580-2424 Ext. 13580.

Timeline

The first round of public consultations will end on June 30th.

The independent review of local regulations is expected to be completed by early autumn.

Staff are planning to bring a report with recommendations to Community and Protective Services Committee by the end of the year. This staff report will be informed by a further round of community consultations.

Getting Assistance:

General: Any member of the public is encouraged to contact 3-1-1 to report by-law related issues concerning rental accommodations, such as property standards and maintenance, noise or solid waste matters.  By-law and Regulatory Services will investigate and initiate enforcement action as necessary.

Rental Housing: Tenants can learn about their rights, and how to get help when needed, by visiting the Information for Tenants web page on ottawa.ca. This information is currently available in the eight most common languages in our city. Tenants can also call 3-1-1 for service in 170 languages.

Short-Term Rentals: The City does not permit “ghost hotels” in residential neighbourhoods. If residents are having issues with a short-term rental property in their community, they should call 3-1-1 to report problems as they occur.

The City’s Rental Accommodations Study webpage links are below:

English – https://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-engagement/projects/rental-accommodations-study

French – https://ottawa.ca/fr/hotel-de-ville/engagement-du-public/projets/etude-sur-les-logements-locatifs