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Edmonton Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Edmonton, Alberta

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Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Edmonton

To operate a short-term rental in Edmonton, hosts must obtain a valid City of Edmonton business license for each property being rented out on platforms like Airbnb or VRBO. The license costs $94 and is valid for one year. Hosts must include their business license number on any advertisements for the rental property.

Once a license is issued, the City of Edmonton notifies Alberta Health Services, who may conduct an inspection to ensure the property complies with health regulations. Hosts are responsible for providing guests with a copy of the city's Short-Term Residential Rental Accommodation guide, posting their contact phone number in the rental unit, and not allowing the property to be used to operate an unlicensed business.

If a host lives on-site, they can rent out a maximum of two sleeping units that can each be occupied by up to two people. Renting out more than two units requires applying for a Major Home Based Business Development Permit in addition to the business license.

Proposed Changes to Edmonton's STR Regulations

In October 2023, Edmonton City Councilor Michael Janz proposed stricter regulations on short-term rentals in an effort to address the housing crisis. His motion aims to limit STRs to properties where the host resides as their primary residence, and cap rentals at 90 days per year.

Janz argues that many STRs are owned by out-of-town investors who have removed houses and condos from the long-term rental market, which raises rents for everyone. He wants to restore STRs to their original purpose of allowing people to rent out their homes occasionally while on vacation.

The Edmonton Short-Term Rental Association opposes the proposed changes, stating that most STR hosts are homeowners renting out a single room, garage suite, or garden suite to supplement their income. They argue these units cannot be used as long-term rentals and that studies show STRs do not significantly impact rent prices.

The city council was set to vote on the motion in late October 2023. If passed, the new rules would prohibit whole-home STRs and limit owner-occupied rentals to 90 days annually.

Zoning and Other STR Considerations

Edmonton's Zoning Bylaw provides some guidance on where STRs may be permitted, but does not explicitly regulate them. Residential zones like RF1 allow major home-based businesses to be used for discretion, which could potentially include STRs if approved.

STR hosts must ensure their property meets building code and fire safety requirements, such as having an openable window or exterior door in each bedroom to provide emergency egress. Condo boards and homeowners associations may also have their own rules restricting or prohibiting STRs.

Ultimately, it's important for Edmonton STR hosts to carefully review the regulations, obtain proper licensing, and stay up-to-date on any legal changes. Following the rules helps ensure a safe and positive experience for guests while being a good neighbor in the community. Consulting with local officials, property managers, or real estate investor groups can provide further guidance.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Edmonton

All short-term rental hosts in Edmonton must obtain a valid City of Edmonton Business License for each property they rent out. The license fee is currently $94 and is valid for one year.

Once issued, hosts must prominently display their business license number on any advertisements or listings for their rental property. This allows the City to track and regulate short-term rentals.

To rent out more than two sleeping units, hosts must also apply for a Major Home Based Business Development Permit in addition to the business license. A Development Permit is also required if the host resides at the rental premises.

When a license is granted, the City notifies Alberta Health Services, who may conduct an inspection to ensure the property meets health and safety standards. This could include verifying adequate fire safety measures, cleanliness, and proper food handling procedures are in place.

Hosts are responsible for providing their guests with a copy of the City's Short-Term Residential Rental Accommodation Information Guide, which outlines rules and regulations for things like noise, parking, and waste management. Posting a contact phone number in the unit is also mandatory.

Edmonton's Business License Bylaw was updated in 2020 to specifically include short-term rentals. Previously, the rules were less clear, and many hosts operated without licenses. The new regulations aim to balance supporting the sharing economy while addressing community concerns around safety, neighborhood disruption, and housing availability.

Failure to comply with the licensing and operating requirements can result in fines. 2019 the City of Edmonton issued 149 tickets for unlicensed short-term rentals. While some hosts report operating without a license for years without issues, the City has the power to levy fines up to $2000 for violations and revoke licenses for repeat offenders.

Ultimately, obtaining proper licensing is a key responsibility for short-term rental hosts in Edmonton. Following the City's regulations helps ensure a safe and positive experience for guests, while being a good neighbor in the community. While adding some administrative steps, the licensing process aims to strike a workable balance for this growing city's tourism economy sector.

Required Documents for Edmonton Short-Term Rentals

To obtain a Short-Term Residential Rental Accommodation license in Edmonton, hosts must submit several required documents as part of their application. The most important part is a detailed operational plan outlining the host's guest management procedures.

The City must approve this Operational Plan before a license will be issued. It should cover topics such as:

  • How the property will be advertised for short-term rental, including specific short-term rental booking platforms used
  • Acknowledgment that guests are not permitted to operate unlicensed businesses from the property
  • Check-in and check-out procedures for guests
  • Measures taken to ensure compliance with noise, waste, and parking bylaws
  • Emergency contact information posted on the property

Hosts must agree to abide by the approved Operational Plan and notify the City of any changes. Failure to follow the plan can result in fines starting at $250 per violation.

In addition to the Operational Plan, a development permit may be required if the host is making changes to the property's physical layout. For example, a building permit would be needed if adding or removing walls to create additional bedrooms for rental.

Hosts must also ensure the suite has the proper development and building permits if renting out a secondary or garden suite as a short-term rental. These permits confirm the suite was legally and safely constructed.

For rental properties located in condos or apartments, hosts should obtain permission from the condominium board or landlord before applying for a short-term rental license. Many multi-family buildings have bylaws restricting or prohibiting this type of rental activity.

Finally, the City recommends that hosts contact their insurance provider to ensure they have adequate coverage for short-term rentals. Standard homeowner or landlord policies may not cover claims related to paying guests.

By gathering this documentation before beginning the license application, Edmonton's short-term rental hosts can avoid delays in getting their properties listed and welcoming guests. The City's required paperwork helps ensure rental accommodations are being operated responsibly and safely.

Edmonton Short-Term Rental Taxes

Short-term rental hosts in Edmonton are subject to various taxes, including federal and municipal taxes. It's crucial for hosts to understand their tax obligations to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers short-term rental income taxable income at the federal level. Hosts must report their rental income on their annual tax return and pay the appropriate amount of income tax based on their tax bracket. To reduce their taxable income, they can deduct eligible expenses related to their rental property, such as mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.

In addition to income tax, hosts may also be required to collect and remit Goods and Services Tax (GST) on their short-term rental income. If a host's annual revenue from short-term rentals exceeds $30,000, they must register for a GST account with the CRA and charge GST on their rental fees. The current GST rate in Alberta is 5%.

At the municipal level, the City of Edmonton imposes a Tourism Levy on short-term rental accommodations. As of January 1, 2022, the Tourism Levy rate is 4% of the total rental price, including any cleaning fees or other charges. Hosts are responsible for collecting this levy from their guests and remitting it to the City of Edmonton on a quarterly basis.

To remit the Tourism Levy, hosts must register their short-term rental property with the City of Edmonton and obtain a business license. They are required to file quarterly returns and make payments online through the City's MyBusiness portal. Failure to collect and remit the Tourism Levy can result in penalties and interest charges.

It's important to note that the Tourism Levy is separate from the GST and must be collected and remitted independently. Hosts should clearly communicate the applicable taxes to their guests and include them in the total rental price to avoid any confusion or disputes.

Navigating the tax landscape for short-term rentals can be complex, so hosts are encouraged to consult with a tax professional or accountant to ensure they are meeting all their tax obligations. Keeping accurate records of rental income and expenses is also essential for tax purposes and can help hosts maximize their deductions and minimize their tax liability.

By understanding and complying with the various tax requirements, short-term rental hosts in Edmonton can operate their businesses responsibly and contribute to the local economy while avoiding any legal or financial issues.

Alberta Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

While the City of Edmonton has its own specific regulations for short-term rentals, some provincial rules and guidelines apply across Alberta.

The Alberta government defines a short-term rental as a property that is rented out for a period of less than 30 days. This includes properties listed on platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway and those rented out directly by the owner.

One of the main provincial requirements for short-term rentals is compliance with the Alberta Fire Code. All rental properties must have working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Hosts are responsible for properly installing and maintaining these safety devices.

In addition, short-term rental properties must meet the minimum health and safety standards set out in the Alberta Public Health Act. This includes safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, and adequate ventilation. Hosts may be subject to inspections by Alberta Health Services to ensure compliance with these standards.

Another important consideration for short-term rental hosts in Alberta is insurance. While some platforms like Airbnb offer host protection insurance, this may not cover all potential liabilities. Hosts are encouraged to contact their insurance provider to ensure they have adequate coverage for their rental property.

At the provincial level, no specific taxes or fees apply to short-term rentals. However, hosts are still required to report their rental income on their provincial income tax return and pay the appropriate amount of tax based on their income bracket.

It's worth noting that some municipalities in Alberta have implemented their own short-term rental regulations in addition to the provincial rules. For example, the Town of Canmore requires all short-term rental properties to have a business license and limits the number of licenses available in certain areas to preserve housing affordability for locals.

Hosts who operate short-term rentals in multiple municipalities across Alberta should research the specific rules and regulations in each location to ensure they are fully compliant. Failure to follow local bylaws can result in fines, penalties, and even the revocation of a rental license.

Overall, while the provincial rules for short-term rentals in Alberta are relatively straightforward, hosts are still responsible for ensuring their properties are safe, healthy, and properly insured. By following these guidelines and any additional local regulations, hosts can confidently operate their short-term rental businesses and contribute positively to the tourism economy in Alberta.

Does Edmonton Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions among hosts on platforms like Bigger Pockets and Reddit, it appears that Edmonton takes a relatively lenient approach to enforcing short-term rental regulations compared to stricter cities like Vancouver. Many hosts report operating STRs in Edmonton for extended periods without obtaining the required business license, often without facing any penalties or enforcement action.

One host on Reddit shared their experience: "I've been running an Airbnb in Edmonton for over 3 years now without a license. Never had any issues with the city or complaints from neighbors. As long as you're a responsible host and keep things low-key, you'll likely fly under the radar."

Another host on Bigger Pockets commented: "Edmonton is pretty Airbnb-friendly overall. The city implemented licensing requirements a few years back but isn't actively hunting down unlicensed listings. Their enforcement is mostly complaint-based, so you can probably get away without a license if you avoid generating noise or parking complaints."

However, this doesn't mean that Edmonton never enforces its STR rules. The city does issue fines to unlicensed operators and has even revoked licenses for repeated violations. In 2019, Edmonton issued 149 tickets to unlicensed STRs. However, with an estimated 2,200 unlicensed listings in the city, this still represents a small fraction of offenders.

It seems Edmonton's goal is more about encouraging compliance than aggressively cracking down on hosts. The city prefers to educate hosts and work collaboratively to resolve issues when complaints arise. With limited enforcement resources, they appear to be focusing on the most egregious and problematic cases rather than proactively monitoring all listings.

So, while it's not advisable to blatantly disregard Edmonton's STR regulations, the city does seem to be more lax than some other major metros. Hosts who operate responsibly, obtain a business license and promptly address any neighbor concerns have little to worry about. But those looking to skirt the rules shouldn't expect zero risk of consequences.

Compared to Vancouver, which has taken a harder line against non-compliant listings, Edmonton is relatively "Airbnb-friendly." Hosts can likely get away with more in Edmonton, for better or worse. However, the city's light-handed approach may not last forever, as officials recently discussed potential rule changes to address housing affordability, community impact, and tax equity concerns. For now, though, Edmonton remains a somewhat lenient environment for short-term rentals.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in Edmonton

Starting a short-term rental business in Edmonton can be a lucrative venture, but it's important to follow the proper steps to ensure compliance with local regulations and set yourself up for success. Here's a numbered list of steps to get started:

  1. Determine your goals and target market: Decide whether you want to rent out a spare room, an entire apartment, or a separate property. Consider who your ideal guests would be (e.g., tourists, business travelers, families) and what amenities and features would appeal to them.
  2. Research local regulations and obtain necessary permits: Familiarize yourself with Edmonton's short-term rental regulations, including the requirement to obtain a valid business license for each property. Apply for a Residential Rental Accommodation (Short-Term) license and any necessary permits, such as a Major Home Based Business Development Permit if renting out more than two sleeping units.
  3. Prepare your property: Ensure your rental property meets all safety and building code requirements, such as having proper smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Make any necessary repairs or upgrades to create a comfortable and inviting space for guests.
  4. Create a detailed listing: Take high-quality photos of your property and write a compelling description that highlights its unique features and amenities. Be transparent about any rules or restrictions, such as quiet hours or parking limitations.
  5. Set competitive rates: Research similar listings in your area to determine a competitive nightly rate. Consider factors such as seasonality, events, and demand when setting your prices.
  6. Develop a guest management plan: Create a comprehensive Operational Plan that outlines your guest communication and check-in procedures, house rules, and emergency contact information. This plan must be submitted to the City of Edmonton for approval as part of your business license application.
  7. List your property on popular platforms: Once your business license is approved, create listings on popular short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. Be sure to include your business license number on all advertisements.
  8. Manage bookings and guest communication: Respond promptly to guest inquiries and booking requests. Provide clear instructions for check-in and check-out, and be available to answer any questions or concerns throughout their stay.
  9. Maintain your property and comply with regulations:Regularly clean and maintain your rental property to ensure a positive guest experience. Stay up-to-date with any changes to Edmonton's short-term rental regulations, and renew your business license annually.
  10. Optimize your listing and expand your business: Monitor your reviews and occupancy rates to identify areas for improvement. Consider expanding your business by adding additional properties or partnering with other local businesses to offer unique experiences for your guests.

By following these steps and adhering to Edmonton's short-term rental regulations, you can build a successful and compliant business that provides memorable experiences for your guests while contributing positively to the local economy.

Who to Contact in Edmonton about Short-Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

If you have questions about short-term rental regulations or zoning in Edmonton, there are several key contacts and resources available:

Edmonton Service Centre: For general inquiries about business licensing, including short-term rental licenses, contact the Edmonton Service Centre.

Phone (in Edmonton): 311
Phone (outside Edmonton): 780-442-5311
Email: businesslicenceapplications@edmonton.ca

City of Edmonton Zoning Bylaw Team: For questions specifically related to zoning regulations for short-term rentals, you can reach out to the Zoning Bylaw Team.

Zoning Bylaw Team
Edmonton Service Centre
2nd Floor, Edmonton Tower
10111 104 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB T5J 0J4
Email: zoningbylawrenewal@edmonton.ca

City of Edmonton Development Services: If you have already applied for a development permit and have questions, contact the Development Officer assigned to your file or call 311. You can also fill out the online contact form at edmonton.ca/developmentservices for general development inquiries.

Municipal Planning Services (MPS): MPS is an independent planning consulting firm that assists with the Edmonton region's planning, subdivision, and development issues. While they are not a City of Edmonton department, they may be able to provide guidance on navigating the regulatory process.

Phone: 780-486-1991
Email: admin@munplan.ab.ca

Short-Term Rental Advisors: Consider speaking with a short-term rental advisor or property manager who specializes in the Edmonton market. They can help guide you through the licensing and zoning requirements. Check online directories or ask for recommendations in local real estate investing groups.

Remember that Edmonton's short-term rental regulations and zoning bylaws can change over time. Always refer to the most current information provided by the City of Edmonton. The Edmonton Service Centre and Zoning Bylaw Team can direct you to the applicable bylaws and provide guidance on the rules in effect at the time of your inquiry.

By reaching out to the appropriate contacts and resources, you can get the most accurate and up-to-date information on short-term rental regulations and zoning in Edmonton. This will help ensure your rental property is in compliance and avoid any potential issues down the road.

What Do Airbnb Hosts in Edmonton on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think about Local Regulations?

To get a sense of how short-term rental hosts in Edmonton feel about the local regulations, we can turn to popular online forums like Reddit and Bigger Pockets. Here are a few relevant discussions and perspectives:

Reddit - r/Edmonton - "New Airbnb regulations in Edmonton"

In this thread, hosts discuss the impact of Edmonton's updated short-term rental regulations that took effect in 2020. Some express frustration with the added bureaucracy and costs of obtaining a business license, while others see it as a necessary step to level the playing field and address community concerns. One host comments, "I get why the city wants to regulate STRs, but the process is a bit of a hassle. It's not cheap either, with the license fee and the time spent on paperwork."

Bigger Pockets - "Edmonton Short-Term Rental Regulations"

This post on the Bigger Pockets forums dives into the specifics of Edmonton's STR rules, with hosts sharing their experiences and advice. Some note that the regulations are not as strictly enforced as in other cities, with one stating, "I've been operating without a license for a while now and haven't had any issues. But I do keep a low profile and make sure my guests are respectful of the neighbors." Others caution against this approach, emphasizing the importance of compliance to avoid potential fines and maintain good standing with the city.

Reddit - r/AirBnB - "Edmonton hosts - how are you dealing with the new rules?"

Edmonton hosts discuss strategies for adapting to the city's updated STR regulations in this thread. Some share tips for navigating the licensing process, such as "Make sure you have all your documents in order before applying, including your operational plan. It will save you a lot of back-and-forth with the city." Others debate the fairness of the rules, with one host arguing, "I don't see why I should have to pay for a license when I'm just renting out my spare room occasionally. It's not like I'm running a full-time business."

Bigger Pockets - "Edmonton STR Regulations - Proposed Changes"

This recent post discusses the potential changes to Edmonton's STR rules proposed by Councillor Michael Janz in 2023. Hosts express mixed reactions, with some supporting the idea of limiting STRs to primary residences to curb the impact on housing affordability. Others push back against the 90-day annual cap, arguing that it unfairly restricts their ability to earn income from their properties. One host sums up the sentiment, saying, "I understand the need for some regulation, but these proposed changes feel like an overreach. It's a balancing act between supporting small business owners and addressing community concerns."

Overall, the discussions on Reddit and Bigger Pockets reveal a range of opinions among Edmonton STR hosts regarding the local regulations. While some see the rules as necessary and manageable, others find them burdensome and overly restrictive. As the city continues to refine its approach to short-term rentals, it will be important to consider the perspectives of hosts alongside the needs of the broader community.

Disclaimer: While we here at BNBCalc strive to keep all of our city regulation guides updated and accurate with all the latest local laws, we still do not suggest using them as your sole or primary source for local regulations. We also do not recommend you rely on the third-party sources we link to or reference, and we are not responsible for any of the information on these third-party sites. These guides are for entertainment purposes only and only provide basic information and should not be considered as legal advice.

We highly recommend directly contacting the responsible parties for each city and hearing what their officials have to say. Ultimately, it's your responsibility as an investor to ensure you fully comply with the local laws, and it's best to speak with professionals before making an investment decision.

⚡️
Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.