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Kitchener Short Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Kitchener, Canada

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Starting a Short Term Rental Business in Kitchener

As of 2023, the City of Kitchener does not have specific regulations or licensing requirements for short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO2. All rental units in the city are currently unregulated, as Kitchener has no rental licensing bylaws2. The only bylaws that apply are general property standards and lot maintenance, which apply to all properties, not just short-term rentals2.

However, Kitchener is now considering licensing short-term rentals as it reviews its lodging house bylaw6. The city is seeking public feedback through a survey that closes June 6, 202316. This indicates potential upcoming changes to regulate the short-term rental market. The possible change comes as the city looks to provide more protections for property owners, renters, and neighbours1.

Some key considerations for Kitchener as it explores short-term rental regulations:

  • Licensing could cover not just entire units, but also accessory units like sheds, tiny homes, driveways, parking spots, pools and backyards1
  • The city wants to balance allowing short-term rentals with ensuring people feel safe and secure, have consumer protections, and that it works for owners, neighbours and residents1
  • Kitchener is looking at what licensing could entail, such as regular inspections to ensure properties are safe for neighbours1

Short Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Kitchener

Currently, there are no licensing requirements for operating short-term rentals in Kitchener2. Hosts can list their properties on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO without needing to obtain any special permits or licenses from the city.

However, this is likely to change in the near future as Kitchener considers implementing a licensing system for short-term rentals16. The city is currently in the process of reviewing its lodging house bylaw and gathering public feedback to inform potential regulations1.

Some short-term rental companies operating in Kitchener, like The Laundry Rooms, think licensing is "inevitable" and see it as a positive development1. They believe it will provide a level of security by ensuring properties are regularly inspected and safe, while also weeding out bad actors1.

In nearby Waterloo, licenses are only needed for short-term rentals in low-rise residential units like duplexes or townhomes, not for high-rises1. It remains to be seen what form licensing will take in Kitchener and which property types will be covered.

Required Documents for Kitchener Short Term Rentals

Since Kitchener does not regulate short-term rentals at this time, there are no specific documents required by the city to operate an Airbnb or VRBO2. Hosts should still ensure their property meets general safety standards and has appropriate insurance coverage.

However, if Kitchener implements a licensing system for short-term rentals as it is currently considering, hosts will likely need to provide certain documents to obtain a license16. This could potentially include:

  • Proof of ownership or permission from the owner to operate a short-term rental
  • Building permits showing the property is up to code
  • Proof of insurance coverage
  • Floor plans of the rental unit
  • Fire safety and evacuation plans
  • Guest registry information

The exact documentation requirements will depend on how Kitchener structures its short-term rental regulations, which are still under review. Hosts should stay informed about the licensing process and be prepared to comply with any new rules.

Kitchener Short Term Rental Taxes

While Kitchener itself does not collect taxes on short-term rentals, Airbnb collects and remits the 4% Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) on behalf of hosts for listings located in the Waterloo Regional Tourism District, which includes Kitchener3. Hosts do not need to take any action, as Airbnb handles the tax.

It's possible that Kitchener could implement additional taxes or fees on short-term rentals as part of its upcoming regulatory changes16. Some cities use such mechanisms to offset the impacts of short-term rentals on housing affordability and availability.

However, there are no concrete plans for new short-term rental taxes in Kitchener at this stage. The city's focus appears to be on developing a licensing framework to ensure safety and balance the interests of various stakeholders1. Any tax changes would likely be determined during this policy development process.

Kitchener-wide Short Term Rental Rules

Apart from the general property standards and lot maintenance bylaws that apply to all properties2, Kitchener does not have any city-wide rules specifically targeting short-term rentals at this time. However, this may change in the near future as the city considers implementing regulations16.

Some potential areas Kitchener may look to regulate include:

  • Restricting short-term rentals to primary residences only, prohibiting rentals in secondary suites or investment properties
  • Capping the number of nights per year a property can be rented short-term
  • Requiring hosts to provide emergency contact information to guests and neighbours
  • Mandating safety features like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.
  • Implementing a registration or permit system to track short-term rental activity
  • Strengthening enforcement and penalties for non-compliant operators

These are some common approaches other cities have taken to manage short-term rentals. Kitchener will need to craft rules that fit its unique context and priorities, based on consultations with the community and research into best practices.

Does Kitchener strictly enforce STR rules?

Since Kitchener currently lacks STR-specific regulations, there is no strict enforcement2. The city has not received complaints about Airbnbs with regards to licensing or property standards2.

Compared to cities like Toronto that have implemented strict rules like 180-night annual caps and primary residence requirements6, Kitchener appears to be more Airbnb-friendly by not regulating the industry so far. Some suggest that with only around 300 Airbnb listings, it may not be a big enough issue yet for Kitchener to prioritize14.

However, attitudes may be shifting as the short-term rental market grows and contributes to housing affordability challenges. Desjardins estimates that short-term rentals have "significantly impacted" housing affordability in Canada6. This is prompting more cities to restrict non-primary residence rentals and improve enforcement6.

As Kitchener moves to potentially regulate short-term rentals, it will need to determine an appropriate enforcement model. This could involve proactive measures like mandatory inspections before issuing licenses, as well as reactive responses to complaints. Strict penalties for non-compliance, like heavy fines or license revocation, may be necessary to deter rule-breaking.

Fundamentally, Kitchener will have to balance supporting short-term rentals as a source of income and tourism activity with protecting housing affordability and stability for residents. Finding this balance will shape how strict and comprehensive its regulatory approach ends up being.

How to Start a Short Term Rental Business in Kitchener

Understand the current lack of regulation and potential upcoming changes. As of 2023, Kitchener does not license or regulate short-term rentals2, but is in the process of considering new rules16. Stay informed about policy developments that could impact your operation.

Evaluate your property's suitability. Ensure it is safe, up to code, and has the amenities and features to attract guests. Consider any upgrades or renovations that may be needed. Consult with the city's building division if you have questions.

Develop a business plan. Estimate your start-up and operating costs, expected occupancy and nightly rates, and revenue potential. Research the local market and competitor listings to price competitively.

Obtain proper insurance coverage. Short-term rental insurance can protect you from liability issues and property damage. Shop around for the best policy for your needs.

Create a welcoming space. Invest in quality furniture, linens, decor and amenities to make your rental stand out. Consider hiring a professional designer experienced with short-term rentals5.

List your property on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. Craft an attractive listing with professional photos and an enticing description. Be responsive to inquiries and guest communications.

Establish cleaning and maintenance procedures. Cleanliness is crucial for good reviews and repeat bookings. Hire a reputable cleaning service or develop your own rigorous protocols. Have a system for regular maintenance and quick responses to any issues.

Understand your tax obligations. Airbnb collects the 4% Municipal Accommodation Tax on your behalf3, but you are still responsible for reporting short-term rental income on your taxes. Consult with an accountant to ensure compliance.

Prepare for licensing and regulation. As Kitchener moves to potentially license short-term rentals16, be ready to comply with any new requirements like permits, fees, inspections, etc. Have all your documentation in order.

Be a responsible operator. Follow all rules and regulations, maintain a safe and high-quality property, and be a good neighbor. Positive community relations can help support the long-term viability of your short-term rental business.

Who to contact in Kitchener about Short Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

As Kitchener does not currently regulate short-term rentals, there is no specific department or contact for STR inquiries. However, you can reach out to the following for related questions:

For zoning, building permits, and property standards:
Kitchener Building Division
Phone: 519-741-2312
Email: building@kitchener.caz

For general inquiries about the city's STR policy review:
City of Kitchener Bylaw Division
Phone: 519-741-2345
Email: bylaw@kitchener.ca

To provide input on potential STR regulations:
Complete the city's short-term rental licensing survey by June 6, 2023.
Link: https://www.engagewr.ca/kitchener-short-term-rentals

As the city develops its STR regulatory framework, it may establish a dedicated contact or department to handle licensing and enforcement. Monitor the city's website and communications for updates.

What do Airbnb hosts in Kitchener on Reddit and Bigger Pockets think about local regulations?

There is limited discussion specifically about Kitchener's STR regulations on Reddit and Bigger Pockets, likely because the city does not currently have STR-specific rules. However, some relevant insights:

  • A 2017 Reddit thread noted the lack of Airbnb regulation in Kitchener, suggesting it may not be a big issue yet with only around 300 listings at the time4. However, the poster predicted Kitchener would eventually need to regulate STRs given their growth and potential impact on housing affordability4.
  • The same poster expressed concerns about amateur STR hosts operating without oversight, citing examples of unpermitted and unsafe basement suites being rented on Airbnb4. They suggested rental licensing could help address these safety issues4.
  • Another Reddit commenter agreed that STR regulation seemed premature for Kitchener in 2017, but could see it becoming necessary if the industry expanded significantly and took a lot of units off the long-term rental market4.
  • While not Kitchener-specific, a Bigger Pockets thread discussed Ontario's STR regulations more broadly. Some hosts expressed frustration with the "hassle" of complying with rules like 180-night caps and primary residence requirements in Toronto.
  • However, others argued that reasonable regulations are important to prevent STRs from depleting housing supply and to ensure a level playing field for hotels. One host noted that "Airbnb is a business like any other" and regulations are to be expected.

As Kitchener considers implementing STR regulations, it will be important to engage hosts and learn from the experiences of other cities to craft effective and balanced policies. Hosts should stay involved in the consultation process to ensure their perspectives are heard.

In summary, Kitchener is in the midst of a potential shift from a hands-off approach to short-term rentals to a more regulated environment. Hosts should closely monitor these policy changes, be prepared to adapt their operations accordingly, and participate actively in shaping the future of STRs in the city.

⚡️
Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.