Short Term Rentals - Licensing Update

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Background

By-law Review

At the December 9, 2019, Council meeting, Council approved the meeting minutes from the November 12, 2019, Glendale Task Force meeting. These minutes included the following recommendation from the Glendale Task Force:

"that the summary of suggested changes to the Short Term Rental By-law be referred to staff for review and consideration; and that the process include a public consultation session; and that the final by-law be brought to Council for adoption in the early spring."

At the January 20, 2020, Council meeting, Council approved the following motion:

"that staff consider allowing the existing short term rental fees to be paid over two installments for 2020; and that the short term rental licensing license fees be reviewed for 2021; and further that Council establish a working committee for short term rental operators to work in collaboration with Council and staff to work on issues of concerns and build a strong working relationship."

Staff reviewed the comments provided by the Glendale Task Force and provided a response and recommended actions through report CS-20-012 in June, 2020.

At the June meeting Council referred this report back to staff to form a working group to review these recommended actions and report back to Council. The working group has now prepared proposed amendments to the Short Term Rental Licensing By-law and changes to the administration of the program. Prior to reporting these changes to Council, staff are interested in hearing from the public in regards to these changes and hope to address any concerns in a future staff report.

The following list is a brief generalization of the proposed changes (for detailed changes see the STR by-law amendment):

  • Transition short term rentals to be operated from principal residences only (by January 1, 2024)
  • Restrict short term rentals from advertising without a license, and add a requirement for advertisements to include license number.
  • Create requirements for property managers to respond within 30 minutes to complaints
  • Introduce Renter's Code of Conduct and Good Neighbour Agreements
  • Require signage for Short Term Rentals which includes Town's customer service number
  • Technical amendments for approval of fees (to be through annual user fees)
  • Introduction of a third-party compliance company to monitor rental advertisements, offer 24/7 complaint line, offer support to enforcement of the Licensing By-law.
  • Suggest revisions to previously approved fee structure (decrease from proposed 2020 fees, increase from 2019 fees) to fund third party compliance company.

Join the Conversation!

Have thoughts or questions about these proposed changes? We'd love to hear your feedback! Please use the engagement tools below to share your thoughts and ask your questions.

Background

By-law Review

At the December 9, 2019, Council meeting, Council approved the meeting minutes from the November 12, 2019, Glendale Task Force meeting. These minutes included the following recommendation from the Glendale Task Force:

"that the summary of suggested changes to the Short Term Rental By-law be referred to staff for review and consideration; and that the process include a public consultation session; and that the final by-law be brought to Council for adoption in the early spring."

At the January 20, 2020, Council meeting, Council approved the following motion:

"that staff consider allowing the existing short term rental fees to be paid over two installments for 2020; and that the short term rental licensing license fees be reviewed for 2021; and further that Council establish a working committee for short term rental operators to work in collaboration with Council and staff to work on issues of concerns and build a strong working relationship."

Staff reviewed the comments provided by the Glendale Task Force and provided a response and recommended actions through report CS-20-012 in June, 2020.

At the June meeting Council referred this report back to staff to form a working group to review these recommended actions and report back to Council. The working group has now prepared proposed amendments to the Short Term Rental Licensing By-law and changes to the administration of the program. Prior to reporting these changes to Council, staff are interested in hearing from the public in regards to these changes and hope to address any concerns in a future staff report.

The following list is a brief generalization of the proposed changes (for detailed changes see the STR by-law amendment):

  • Transition short term rentals to be operated from principal residences only (by January 1, 2024)
  • Restrict short term rentals from advertising without a license, and add a requirement for advertisements to include license number.
  • Create requirements for property managers to respond within 30 minutes to complaints
  • Introduce Renter's Code of Conduct and Good Neighbour Agreements
  • Require signage for Short Term Rentals which includes Town's customer service number
  • Technical amendments for approval of fees (to be through annual user fees)
  • Introduction of a third-party compliance company to monitor rental advertisements, offer 24/7 complaint line, offer support to enforcement of the Licensing By-law.
  • Suggest revisions to previously approved fee structure (decrease from proposed 2020 fees, increase from 2019 fees) to fund third party compliance company.

Join the Conversation!

Have thoughts or questions about these proposed changes? We'd love to hear your feedback! Please use the engagement tools below to share your thoughts and ask your questions.

Questions

Have a question regarding Short Term Rental - Proposed Licensing Updates? Ask away! Town Staff will do their best to respond to all questions in a timely manner. 

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    Thank you for confirming that in 3 years, 150 cottage rentals accounted for 7 yard and 3 property complaints. For comparison, could you provide a list of complaints (noise and propert, yard etc) for all residential properties in our town? Thank you.

    DanB asked 8 months ago

    We will look to include this information if possible. 

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    Hello. I have read all of the materials provided in the document library. I have also read all of the comments and replies in the Share Your Thoughts forum, as well as this (the Questions) section. My questions are as follows: 1) In the Objective section of the Glendale Task Force report, it says the purpose of the committee is "to ensure that the growth of Short Term Accommodations is well managed". Given the recommended changes, would it not be more transparent to say that the intention is for the number of STAs to be diminished? 2) The recommendations include that for someone to rent out their home in NOTL, it must be their primary residence. What, then, would be the objective of someone in that situation to rent out their home? Why is it different than someone renting out their home that is NOT their primary residence? And, if the owners aren't there at the time, how would they manage any potential problems any differently than someone who does NOT have a STA as their primary residence? Shouldn't it be that HOW a property is run be the criteria that is evaluated in assessing the potential issues described? Otherwise, how will the change solve the problems that some neighbours apparently have, whether it is a primary residence or not? 3) One of the recommendations is that STAs for non-owner occupied homes be phased out over the next three years. When questioned about this, the answer has been that this is "a proper amount of time for a transition period". Transition to what? If the answer is to have decreased tourism in NOTL, that should be one of the stated objectives. However, as I mentioned earlier, the recommendations of the Task Force do not support tourism growth. Please clarify. 4) In the "Any definition of a STA use should provide at a minimum" section there are two statements that confuse me in relation to the resulting recommendations. 1 - that it is "meant to serve the temporary accommodation needs of the traveling public". Given that the intention is to clearly lessen the number of homes in Town for such purposes, please explain how the "serving" will be accomplished? And further to that question, where is it that the Task Force recommends Town visitors who will have previously stayed at STAs reside when they are in NOTL? And 2 - that an STA "is considered a 'commercial' use...or a 'non-residential' use". Are not these definitions completely contradictory to the proposal that if an owner is going to rent out his/her home, it must be his/her/their PRIMARY RESIDENCE? 5) Thank you for providing the information regarding complaints connected to STAs since 2018. Can you please also provide us with an equivalent list for non-STAs? Certainly that information should be considered? 6) Connected to my question 5, shouldn't there always be enforcement of Town by-laws? And would it not be logical for the funding for those persons to come from the resulting fines? It has been stated that currently there are no enforcement officers hired to work after 4:30 Monday to Friday or on weekends. Whether the recommendations are ultimately accepted or not, would making this change not be a place to start as well? Should there not, either way, be enforcement officers dealing with any issues that may arise? 7) The recommendations include signage designating all STAs as such. Would this not invite security issues/potential break-ins when the home is vacant - owner or guests not there? For example, my home is certainly not always in use, by me or my guests. Would that not put my home at potential risk? 8) There is a house just down the street from my STA that looks like a junk yard. I am certain that it is not rented out. If some is renting out their home for short-term purposes, and therefore listing it on sites such as Vrbo and Airbnb, is it not in their best interest to have it looking its best...i.e. take care of the property, yard, etc. Are not by-laws connected to this issue enforced for full-time residents? Does the information gathered to make these recommendations suggest that most STAs are not following such by-laws? 9) Would it not make more sense to begin with such recommendations as creating a "Good Neighbour Agreement" first, and see if that is helpful? From the information provided, and the comments in the "Share your thoughts" section of this forum, it is very clear that the majority of licensed STRs/STAs do not cause problems for full-time residents. Does it really make sense that those owners and visitors who do not follow the Town rules and by-laws determine such a massive change, affecting the majority of owners and visitors that do? Thank you.

    Tara Abrams asked 8 months ago

    1) In the Objective section of the Glendale Task Force report, it says the purpose of the committee is "to ensure that the growth of Short Term Accommodations is well managed". Given the recommended changes, would it not be more transparent to say that the intention is for the number of STAs to be diminished? 

    No I do not believe that is an accurate reflection. 

    The recommendations include that for someone to rent out their home in NOTL, it must be their primary residence. What, then, would be the objective of someone in that situation to rent out their home? Why is it different than someone renting out their home that is NOT their primary residence? And, if the owners aren't there at the time, how would they manage any potential problems any differently than someone who does NOT have a STA as their primary residence? Shouldn't it be that HOW a property is run be the criteria that is evaluated in assessing the potential issues described? Otherwise, how will the change solve the problems that some neighbours apparently have, whether it is a primary residence or not? 

    The main difference is that the home being rented is the operators primary residence. It is believed that operators will take greater accountability when operating in a neighbourhood where they live and know their neighbours and community. 

    One of the recommendations is that STAs for non-owner occupied homes be phased out over the next three years. When questioned about this, the answer has been that this is "a proper amount of time for a transition period". Transition to what? If the answer is to have decreased tourism in NOTL, that should be one of the stated objectives. However, as I mentioned earlier, the recommendations of the Task Force do not support tourism growth. Please clarify.

    The transition is specifically related to the requirement to be operating from one's principal residence. We are providing that time frame for operators who do not meet the new requirement to transition the property. That could mean that they move into the home as their principal residence, they may rent out on a long term basis, or sell/ lease the home. 

    In the "Any definition of a STA use should provide at a minimum" section there are two statements that confuse me in relation to the resulting recommendations. 1 - that it is "meant to serve the temporary accommodation needs of the traveling public". Given that the intention is to clearly lessen the number of homes in Town for such purposes, please explain how the "serving" will be accomplished? And further to that question, where is it that the Task Force recommends Town visitors who will have previously stayed at STAs reside when they are in NOTL? And 2 - that an STA "is considered a 'commercial' use...or a 'non-residential' use". Are not these definitions completely contradictory to the proposal that if an owner is going to rent out his/her home, it must be his/her/their PRIMARY RESIDENCE? 

    I believe the definition is fairly self explanatory, an str is to provide for temporary accommodation, please reach me directly if you wish to discuss in greater detail. Again, there is no change to remove strs, there is a new requirement that they will need to obtain the license which is likely to reduce the overall amount of non owner occupied operators. I do not view the language as contradictory. 

    Thank you for providing the information regarding complaints connected to STAs since 2018. Can you please also provide us with an equivalent list for non-STAs? Certainly that information should be considered? 

    I will look to include these numbers if possible. 

    Connected to my question 5, shouldn't there always be enforcement of Town by-laws? And would it not be logical for the funding for those persons to come from the resulting fines? It has been stated that currently there are no enforcement officers hired to work after 4:30 Monday to Friday or on weekends. Whether the recommendations are ultimately accepted or not, would making this change not be a place to start as well? Should there not, either way, be enforcement officers dealing with any issues that may arise? 

    In most cases these fines are not paid to the Town as direct revenue they are subject to fees paid to the court system. Council approved the hiring of additional enforcement resources to be paid through licensing fees, the was ultimately revoked as a result of COVID-19 and the difficult year the industry faced. 

    The recommendations include signage designating all STAs as such. Would this not invite security issues/potential break-ins when the home is vacant - owner or guests not there? For example, my home is certainly not always in use, by me or my guests. Would that not put my home at potential risk? 

    We appreciate the comments and will consider these in drafting the recommendations to staff. 

    There is a house just down the street from my STA that looks like a junk yard. I am certain that it is not rented out. If some is renting out their home for short-term purposes, and therefore listing it on sites such as Vrbo and Airbnb, is it not in their best interest to have it looking its best...i.e. take care of the property, yard, etc. Are not by-laws connected to this issue enforced for full-time residents? Does the information gathered to make these recommendations suggest that most STAs are not following such by-laws? 

    There is a property standards by-la applicable to all properties within the Town. 

    Would it not make more sense to begin with such recommendations as creating a "Good Neighbour Agreement" first, and see if that is helpful? From the information provided, and the comments in the "Share your thoughts" section of this forum, it is very clear that the majority of licensed STRs/STAs do not cause problems for full-time residents. Does it really make sense that those owners and visitors who do not follow the Town rules and by-laws determine such a massive change, affecting the majority of owners and visitors that do?

    The request from Council was to report back on these suggestions and we plan to do so. It will be Council's responsibility to determine what is the appropriate course of action based on the information provided by staff.  

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    Does the proposed transition to principal residences mean that as of 2024, a family would not be able to rent a whole house (ie. without the owner living in a part of the house at the same time, which of course would mean you aren't renting the whole house)? If so, is there any other significant tourist town/city in North America in which a family could not rent a whole house/condo apartment for a short term without the owner living onsite? I understand that Collingwood might have such a by-law but in practice hundreds of homes or condos are available to rent for short-terms. Thank you.

    rnero asked 8 months ago

    A family would be able to rent an entire home. The home would be the operator's principal residence. 

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    Could you provide the total number of property standards and noise complaints for all of NOTL, not just short-term rentals?

    JasonClements asked 8 months ago

    I will try to do this prior to reporting to Council

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    I just have a couple of questions: 1. Is there a clear, quantifiable definition of what the current problem is? Could you please clarify? I’ve read things about 26 complaints regarding property standards since 2018, the belief that STR’s are preventing young families from moving to NOTL and the belief that STRs are all getting really rich. 2. What really are the complaint counts? I’ve seen nothing about counts related to complaints about private residence counts in the totals. A matrix, such as the one below, might be nice to have to use as a basis for analysis and discussion. Niagara-on-the-Lake Complaints for Calendar Year 2020 Residence Type Total # of Units Total # of Issues # Clean Yards # Noise # Property Standards Private Residence B&B STR - Licenced - Local Mgmt STR - Licenced - No Local Mgmt STR - Unlicenced 3. Why are unlicenced and/or STR’s without local management allowed to continue to operate in NOTL? This seems simply like just an enforcement issue … if you’re discovered, you get a huge fine … done. Is the possibility of getting extended hours by-law officers no longer in the works?

    dan@cedar.on.ca asked 8 months ago

    Is there a clear, quantifiable definition of what the current problem is? Could you please clarify? I’ve read things about 26 complaints regarding property standards since 2018, the belief that STR’s are preventing young families from moving to NOTL and the belief that STRs are all getting really rich.

     The current problem was not identified by staff it was a priority of Council to review the by-law. Council provided direction to staff to provide responses based on the suggestions of the GTF. Staff have reviewed and believe there are merits to some of the suggestions based on other municipal examples. 

    What really are the complaint counts? I’ve seen nothing about counts related to complaints about private residence counts in the totals. A matrix, such as the one below, might be nice to have to use as a basis for analysis and discussion.

    I have not had an opportunity to provide this analysis I will try to get this formulated.  

    Why are unlicenced and/or STR’s without local management allowed to continue to operate in NOTL? This seems simply like just an enforcement issue … if you’re discovered, you get a huge fine … done. Is the possibility of getting extended hours by-law officers no longer in the works?

    Unlicensed operators are not permitted to operate ithout a license. If you are aware of any unlicensed operators please bring them to staff's attention. 

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    Good evening My husband and I are trying to join the link on the document page to the open house and it doesn't work. Can someone please post it asap? Thanks

    NAK asked 8 months ago

    Sorry were not able to get you connected to the meeting last night. There is a recording posted here:

    https://livestream.com/notl

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    Is it within the purview of the existing (or the modified) bylaw to limit the clustering of STRs in particular areas? I live in Chautauqua where this is a big problem. The preponderance of cottage rentals has led to a hollowing out of the neighborhood. Every house that has sold near me in the last 2 years has been opened as an Air BnB.

    DRutt asked 8 months ago

    No, there is no proposed amendment that looks to address the number of rentals in a given geographic area. 

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    Dear Peter, Staff, Mayor and Council. This is a very significant matter under review. The consequences will be significant to income sources important to many; small businesses, Real Estate Values, local economy, local workers including cleaning people, handy services to the opportunity for hospitality growth. Overall Niagara on the Lake has created a strong history. I encourage you to reset the approach to this review. Most importantly prioritize and focus on the COVID 19 Pandemic and related implications for future health and economic recovery strategy; enforce the current bylaw effectively and address key issues to reduce this; focus on the minority causing issues vs the majority who are abiding and responsible; perform the proper and full analysis including economic benefit and consequences analysis; form a proper committee, one that includes representation from all parties to consider a successful strategy for the future. Refine and manage before making major changes To the current process, I provide the following questions and considerations: Has suffficient fact based support and analysis been completed? We have seen the outcomes to credibility and trust south of the border when the system does not follow facts and analysis. Most importantly, Please advise how this matter could be significant to warrant everyone's time and attention during a Pandemic. I respectfully suggest there are more important matters to focus on during a pandemic for health, wellness and the economic wellbeing recovery strategy. Has NOTL developed a pandemic economic recovery strategy? Could you please share such and how hospitality, small business and individuals are being addressed? The economic impact to many small businesses and individuals has been significant. Please provide supporting Facts with statistical relativity to define the degree of significance: For example: the number of licensed homes, number of unlicensed homes (easy to map comparing homes to VRBO and AIRBNB to licenses) Number and % of unlicensed homes that have been fined/shutdown Number of complaints by licensed, non-licensed homes, B&B - is there a material problem and where Historical trend of complaints about licensed, unlicensed homes % of complaints within the licensed homes of these; % of complaints that are recurring of the same licensed home Is Current Bylaw enforcement occurring: % of complaints investigated by bylaw % of complaints deemed to be valid % related to the same homes % provided warnings and fines to the total complaints Have you assessed is there a bylaw issue or management of the current bylaw? Has a third party assessed and performed an audit of such? If yes, please share this report. Has home noise monitoring technology such as Noise Aware been considered as a requirement for owners? This is relatively inexpensive. They are being promoted by the likes of VRBO to enable owners to manage noise issues before they become an issue. Hallowing concern - please provide support; % of licensed homes by street and change in this percentage This should be manageable by limiting the number of licenses issued in a given address range. This is common practice with other license programs that have capps/quotas. There are Hotels, Inns, and BnB's mixed into the residential areas within old Towne. How are they being evaluated? Economic Benefits and Implications - it is common practice for policy decisions to have an economic benefit and consequences report completed. Could you please publish the economic study the has been completd by a qualified 3rd party professional firm on the benefits direct and indirect provided by licensed vacation rentals and the potential consequences from these proposed changes. Hospitality Guests - has there been a survey completed on the nature and type of Guests', future trends expectations, Customer and Guests expectations and preferences.. These guests are choosing to stay in Vacation Homes, They provide high quality, privacy, safety, comfort. They do not want to share a bedroom or common space with people they do not know. Covid 19 has changed and accelerated the change in consumer preferences. This trend is not going away. Why would NOTL step back in time when it has been on the forefront for so many years. The vast majority of guests are responsible and wonderful. I position the vast majority are not disruptive partiers rather the opposite. They range from Seniors, Families, hard-working people to Millennial Professionals who enjoy the area, the green space, the restaurants, wineries, bike rentals. Has anyone on Staff, committee or council travelled and stayed at a Vacation Home. This is rather important data point given the nature of the topic. If adopted, please advise on the transition plan. A current owner for which does not qualify as a principal residence will have to sell if there is no income. Common business practice. Real Estate Values will most likely decrease significantly with a negative impact to all including local residential owners. With such how have these real estate values and impacts been considered? Please share the report with the analysis that has been completed by a professional third party on such. There have been many great points made by people in this forum. How are these points being considered? Who is performing the follow-up analysis? Please advise on how the changes proposed will align with the future Hospitality and economic growth strategy for NOTL As a Vacation homeowner, I am pleased to address any issues. I note however I have not been notified of any issues. Accordingly, this subject at issue is rather surprising. I will continue to support our neighbourhood and this wonderful World Class hospitality area. I do hope you will pause and refocus your approach. Be well and safe during this most difficult of times.

    Brad asked 8 months ago

    Has sufficient fact based support and analysis been completed?

    Town staff have reviewed existing analysis which will look to be included in the repot. Yes there has been fact based analysis to support many of the recommendations being proposed. not

    Has NOTL developed a pandemic economic recovery strategy?

    Yes we have, the link is here:

    https://notl.civicweb.net/document/18016

    Have you assessed is there a bylaw issue or management of the current bylaw?

    Council has assessed that there is a need to review the existing by-law and has requested staff report on the matter. 

    Has a third party assessed and performed an audit of such?

    No, there has not been such an audit. 

    Has home noise monitoring technology such as Noise Aware been considered as a requirement for owners?

    That was something that was discussed but was not considered to address all concerns, that measure is specifically addressing noise. 

    Real Estate Values will most likely decrease significantly with a negative impact to all including local residential owners. With such how have these real estate values and impacts been considered? 

    Many municipalities have used this approach to achieve exactly that, municipalities such as Toronto. The thought is that by removing non-owner occupied it provides greater opportunity for long term rentals and more affordable housing options for permanent residents. 

    There have been many great points made by people in this forum. How are these points being considered? Who is performing the follow-up analysis?

    All comments in the forum will be included as an attachment to the staff report. They will be summarized and addressed in the report as well.  

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    I see now that staff are referring to "overall complaints received [,,] such as property standards and clean yards." What does this have to do with short term rental licensing and any of the changes proposed, which do not have any clauses pertaining to property standards. I note there is a property standards by-law in effect, and infractions are dealt with via that route. I don't understand how the point raised by staff here is related to ANY way to primary or secondary residence status. As someone else noted in their question that resulted in this answer from staff, a property owner using a second home can attend to an issue in 10 minutes vs a snowbird 6,000 kilometres away. Can you please provide me with the statistics for property standards complains for licensed short-term rentals to validate your opinion? We also have neighborhoods who live here full-time, whose yards are unkempt. How will these changes affect them? They won't, and you won't be addressing property standards. Let's focus on the Short Term Rental Licensing Update first, before starting a new project related to a Property Maintenance and Standards By-law Update.

    mikem asked 8 months ago

    What does this have to do with short term rental licensing and any of the changes proposed, which do not have any clauses pertaining to property standards. I don't understand how the point raised by staff here is related to ANY way to primary or secondary residence status. 

    It is believed that principal residency builds in a tremendous amount of inherent accountability to the operation of STRs. When a STR is not just an income property but a hosts’ actual home, in their own neighbourhood they are more likely to be attentive to noise, trash, and property standards. There is a degree of personal investment that ensures a higher level of compliance. 

    As someone else noted in their question that resulted in this answer from staff, a property owner using a second home can attend to an issue in 10 minutes vs a snowbird 6,000 kilometres away. 

     All short term rental operators will be requested to provide the information of a property manager who will be responsible for responding to complaints within 30 minutes of receiving the complaint. 

    Can you please provide me with the statistics for property standards complains for licensed short-term rentals to validate your opinion?

     

    Complaints Since 2018Sum of Complaints
    Bed and Breakfast2
    4588-12 - NOISE2
    Cottage Rental19
    4114-07 - CLEAN YARDS7
    4588-12 - NOISE9
    4779-14 - PROPERTY STANDARDS3
    Villa5
    4114-07 - CLEAN YARDS4
    4779-14 - PROPERTY STANDARDS1
    Grand Total26


    We also have neighborhoods who live here full-time, whose yards are unkempt. How will these changes affect them? They won't, and you won't be addressing property standards.

     We will still continue to enforce the property standards by-law. If there are any complaints please direct them to our office. 

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    I keep seeing this answer "The vast majority of complaints resulting from short term rentals originate from non-owner-occupied rentals (cottages and villas). It is expected that greater accountability will be born by owners when operating from their principal residences.". How can the noise issue be solved when the owners are away? Just because it's their primary residence, there won't be any complaints when the owner is not there? Say, owner A operate cottage rental out of his primary residence and rent it out 6 months ( with different guests come and go) while he lives out of the country. So he is allowed but he is thousands miles away if there is any issue at the rental. Owner B lives 10 minutes away from the short term rental all year round and manage the rental himself as a second income. But he is not allowed because it's not his primary residence. But in my opinion, I think owner B can respond to the problems more timely than owner A. I REALLY don't see the reason behind all this primary residence thing. In both cases, the house is rented out when the owner is not there. What is the difference when it comes to complaints?

    Jz asked 8 months ago

    Those comments were not addressing noise specifically but the overall complaints received by staff such as property standards and clean yards. Other changes being proposed by staff will look to address the issue of noise complaints such as the requirement of property managers to respond to complaints within 30 minutes.