Short-term accommodation renters may soon require a license to operate within Greater Napanee.
Council has directed town staff to draft a bylaw to regulate the industry-such as Airbnb rentals, within the town boundaries, which could include having owners registering their business with the town for a cost of about $1,000.
Greater Napanee CAO John Pinsent has a bit of experience on the matter as he was working on a similar proposal at his previous job with the Township of Ramara.
“Basically what you get into is you actually manage what you get in terms of a short-term rental,” Pinsent said when asked about the benefits a registration requirement would bring to the town. “There are parameters, there are inspections that are done. There are responsible people designated. If you’re looking at a map of Prince Edward County, normally municipalities actually track where these things are. There’s a series of permitting fees that are paid. There’s penalties that are applied, there’s demerit points. It’s basically a regime of managing short-term rentals such that acceptable behaviour is promoted through a licensing regime.”
Pinsent added the licensing fees wouldn’t likely generate revenue for the town and would be expensive to enforce for the first couple of years while they recouped expenses. Instead fees would simply help offset some of the costs associated with inspections by services such as Greater Napanee Emergency Services that would need to be done on a rental property in order to be certified.
Councillor John McCormack said the town needed to do something to address short-term accommodations, adding that the town is already starting to fall behind.
“There are corporations that are buying up these available units and then it’s twofold,” said McCormack. “You’re losing available housing and also it’s a for-profit. The business is changing so we really have to get on top of it.”
Councillor Dave Pinnell Jr. noted there might not be much the town could do in terms of limiting the number of short-term accommodation properties.
“We have to be careful about why can one person have a license but another person can’t,” Pinnell Jr. added. “That’s a very, very tough hurdle to get over.”
Deputy mayor Max Kaiser made the successful motion to receive Pinsent’s report and directed staff to come back with a draft bylaw as soon as possible, be it the end of this year of early 2022 to get ahead of the spring rental season.