Regulating short term rentals

Download our "Regulating Short-term Rentals" toolkit

Why we created this toolkit 

Online platforms like Airbnb have led to an explosion in short term rentals (“STRs”) across Canada and around the world.

While there has been speculation that COVID-19 would decrease the prevalence and impacts of STRs, the pandemic's impact on the industry has been variable.

One recent study looking at 27 global markets covering the first half of 2020 showed only a modest 4.5% drop in overall STR revenue compared to the previous year. Zooming in, some urban centres are experiencing much more drastic decreases in activity, while neighbouring regional destinations are booming. 

While it'll take time to fully understand the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the industry, it's clear that STRs are here to stay and like any other business, they should be regulated in the public interest.

Easy to say, harder to do. The diversity of interests involved, the range of both benefits and harms, and the digital and international nature of the industry has made effective regulation and enforcement of STRs notoriously difficult.

All levels of government have a role to play in getting a handle on this disruptive industry. However, the localized impacts of STRs have pushed Canada’s municipalities to take the lead.

A range of regulatory approaches are currently being tried with mixed results. Many local governments simply lack the capacity to meaningfully tackle the issue.

That's why, in partnership with Third Space Planning, we created this toolkit as a practical resource for local government elected officials and staff including business licensing clerks, bylaw enforcement officers, and policy and land use planners who are considering, designing or modifying their STR regulations. That said, anyone interested in the effective regulation of STRs should find it valuable.

Our own motivation, as an organization working to help make housing and family life affordable and sustainable for young people, our kids and all Canadians is to mitigate the impacts of STRs on the ability of residents to secure adequate housing, which is an established human right.

However, every community will have its own unique context and motivations for regulating STRs, which can include addressing neighbourhood impacts like noise, ensuring that revenue is collected or levelling the playing field between different accommodation providers.

No matter your community’s priorities, whether your residents want fewer STRs, more STRs, or just better regulated STRs, or whether your community is at the cutting edge of regulations or just getting started, you should be able to find resources in this toolkit that can help.

What's inside: 

A comprehensive, start-to-finish guide for considering, designing or modifying local STR regulations including: 

  • Current best practices
  • Seventeen individual regulatory tools
  • A sample regulatory program 
  • Community profiles 
  • A case study describing province-wide regulatory status in BC
  • Options for provincial/territorial and federal advocacy
  • And much more! 


Made possible with support from: 

This toolkit was developed with input from hundreds of local governments, stakeholders and advisors from across Canada and made possible with support from the following organizations. 



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