If a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch, then one self-described good apple is ready to help kick the bad ones out.
Kristiyan Todorov of Oakville responded to a March article in MidlandToday, ‘Queries raised over definition of Penetanguishene STR legality’ regarding a public meeting about licensing bylaws for the municipality.
“I am an Airbnb operator in Penetanguishene and it seems like a lot of the locals are voicing their opinions,” Todorov said. “However, I'd like to also have my voice heard as a responsible owner and operator on the benefits it brings to the town and surrounding areas.”
Todorov has worked in the field of business and residential financing since 2009, and recently purchased a waterfront property in Penetanguishene along with his fiancée to use as a family cottage.
“We bought this property for our own use during the pandemic, however, this year is our wedding year and (we’re) beyond swamped with stuff; that’s why we are Airbnb’ing it for a time being. So the house is a bit empty, but next year it will be different because we’ll be spending a lot of time up there for ourselves and with family.”
Advertising his services through social media platform Instagram, Todorov discovered that an increasing number of followers were messaging him with questions about short-term rentals (STR). It was when he took more time to respond than to work at his full-time job that he came to a realization, and in early 2022 he stepped up his game.
“At that point, I said, ‘I think it’s better if I turn this into a mentorship where if you’re actually serious you can sign up for it’. I only take a maximum of 10 mentees a month. I don’t want this to be 100 people in person; I want it to be more intimate with the people that are actually serious about it.”
The dense 15-hour seminar covers: selection of the appropriate STR for the operator; management; preparation; vetting guests; costly mistakes; and preventions to avoid issues with neighbours and bylaws.
Todorov asks inquisitive and potential STR owners why they want to attend the seminar, and handpicks the ones which seem intent on following through rather than those merely curious.
“First, you check your bylaws and the municipality’s rules and regulations. The second thing is you vet very carefully, just because it’s not all about the money; you’ve got to make sure the neighbourhood is respected, your property is respected.
“Just because you want lots of money from a short-term rental and you want a fancy lifestyle or whatever the case may be – that’s not a good reason, and I will never take a person like that, because I know they’re not serious about it,” he stated.
“The other thing is whenever there are actual issues with a property, you address it immediately.”
Running his own STR on scenic Georgian Bay hasn’t been without its woes.
In the past year, two incidents occurred on Todorov’s 3,800 square-foot property; the first was immediately dealt with after cameras confirmed what neighbours had contacted him about. The second involved a larger number of guests than had been approved refusing to respond to his communication attempts, to the point where Todorov appeared alongside OPP officers to remove them from the rental.
Concerns of STRs were brought to the attention of Penetanguishene council last year, as the controversial topic gained momentum within the municipality as well as across the country. Draft licensing bylaws and zoning bylaws were discussed at a later public meeting which allowed residents on all sides of the STR issue to speak their mind.
Some STR operators had shared concerns of harassment and false alarms being raised against their businesses by instigating residents, of which Todorov had also experienced. He shared that his security footage, as well as conversations with friendly neighbours and the OPP, confirmed his STR was being harassed by a resident who sought to make trouble.
Otherwise, Todorov hasn’t had much of a problem with operating his STR. Relying on local tradespeople and businesses is a point of pride for him as it fed back into the economy of the community.
“Especially with the way we run any businesses we’re in, we like the best thing for our short-term rentals,” he stated. “When we charge people money, we want to provide five-star amenities in terms of resort sites. Over the past year, we’ve employed over eight people on our properties alone. We’ve spent about $2,000 to $2,500 a month to local people for services and maintenance.
Even the discussions of licensing and zoning bylaws seemed amenable to his situation. Fire inspections, electrical inspections, septage and more were all reasonable municipal requirements from Todorov’s point of view.
“The only thing I don’t agree with; I’ve read the bylaws they’re proposing and it’s eight people maximum to a house. For a property of 3,800 square-feet, eight people… I cannot even find these people in my house,” he said with a laugh.
Further information on Penetanguishene STRs can be found on the short-term rentals page of the Connect Penetanguishene website.