Short-term rental licencing regime coming to South Dundas

MORRISBURG – A South Dundas committee of council has concluded that the municipality needs some form of licencing and controls on short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals are commonly Airbnb rentals, where South Dundas has about 10 listings, but there are other vendors like VRBO.

Deputy Mayor Kirsten Gardner told the committee of the whole Thursday morning, safety needs to be addressed with short-term rental properties but “(we) don’t want to crush anyone’s little enterprise.”

Mayor Steven Byvelds concurred stating that South Dundas doesn’t want to overreact but some form of regulation is needed for health and safety otherwise it will “end up being the Wild West” with party houses.

Chief Building Official Nicole Lowey says the township has dealt with a written complaint about a waterfront Airbnb in Morrisburg where people from the Toronto area are coming and “people are not social distancing or following COVID protocols. This is from what I understand the only complaint we’ve received (about Airbnbs).”

Byvelds noted there’s a rental property right near his house and the only problem is “four Seadoos making a racket on the St. Lawrence River” but there’s nothing illegal about that.

Council came to a consensus that there should be some form of licencing, like what is already in place for bed-and-breakfasts, in order to allow for health and safety inspections.

But Deputy Mayor Gardner cautioned that a person renting a room for a weekend or a few days shouldn’t be held to the same regulatory burden and cost as a B&B which runs year-round. “You will kill the Airbnbs,” she said.

The township’s planner, J.L. Richards, will come back with a draft zoning amendment for short-term rentals plus a proposed licencing system that can be scaled.

The idea of short-term rentals was a completely new concept for one councillor. The idea that people rent a whole house or a room out of somebody’s house for a weekend “blows my mind,” Don Lewis said.