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Council laying groundwork to regulate short-term rentals in Tiny

A sign, a permit fee, safety and septic inspections in addition to guidelines for renters will likely be part of the bylaw
Lynne Archibald, representative of the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations (FoTTSA), presented to council, virtually, her group's requests around a short-term rental bylaw. Mehreen Shahid/MidlandToday

When it comes to short-term rentals in Tiny Township, it's not all about partying - it's about enjoying the great outdoors.

That is according Gibb Wishart, a Tiny Township councillor, who agreed with his peers about the need for a short-term rental bylaw for the municipality.

"I am very much a fan of regulating," he said, responding to concerns from Lynne Archibald, a member of the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations (FoTTSA). 

She was representing her group at Monday's committee of the whole meeting, during which she presented results from a survey the association had conducted; she also tabled some recommendations.

The purpose of their ideas, said Archibald, was to be able to distinguish between responsible short-term rental owners, who rent to repeat clients for seven days or longer, from those who are unknown to neighbours and rent for a weekend or two or three days at most.

The bylaw, she said, would require such rental owners to register with the township, provide information brochures to guests and purchase a permit to be displayed inside the property and outside using a sign. 

"I love the idea of a sign," said Wishart. "I could see a sign on the property that tells the new resident for the night or the weekend that this is a short-term rental and these are the sort of rules of the game, so to speak."

Coun. Tony Mintoff agreed with his colleague. 

"I think it's high time we consider a licensing and registration program for short-term rentals of less than a week," he said. "What could flow from that process would be a page on our website that would list the short-term rental locations that comply."

Circulation of the owner's contact information would also be beneficial, added Mintoff. 

Archibald noted that some of the issues brought forward through the survey include noise complaints, overcrowding on the beaches and inside properties and constant partying.

She said that even though bylaw officials had only received eight calls last year about short-term rentals, it was likely because the inconsiderate, aggressive and rude behaviour of renters leaves neighbours feeling intimidated and insecure.

Plus, added Archibald, who was Zooming in from Lisbon, bylaw officers aren't available around the clock.

"We need to cut down the noise," said Wishart. "We need to make it clear to the person who is in the building that we expect respectable behaviour."

Mintoff said there should be additional requirements to ensure the rental properties are being used safely.

"I would suggest it should also require the building to also have a fire safety inspection to make sure they have appropriate fire safety equipment in place," he said.

Wishart expanded on his colleague's suggestion by adding another level of inspection.

"I want to tell them the septic system can only handle so much," he said. "That would be another inspection that we would do ahead of time. We (also) need building department to have a look at the building to see if they've converted the garage into a bunk room."

As for the $250 annual permit fee recommended by the FoTTSA, Wishart said it's a drop in the bucket. 

"But it would be the beginning because staff is going to have to spend time with this," he said. 

Arhcibald said she hoped the fee would help the township hire more bylaw staff. As well, she said, the database would give the municipality the ability to refuse permits to rental property owners against whom a large number of complaints are filed during a season. 

"I am waiting for the staff report and would urge and recommend council to give serious consideration to a licensing and registration program," said Mintoff.