Regina city council met one final time before November’s civic election, passing regulations that have been a topic of discussion for close to two years.
Regina Airbnb and short-term accommodation (STA) rentals will now need a licence in order to operate in the city.
Council unanimously voted in favour of bylaw changes that will make licences $100 for a primary residence and $300 for a secondary residence. Failure to licence or advertising without a valid licence number will result in a $1,000 fine.
In comparison, licensing fees for residential businesses are $225 and it doesn’t require a licence for a commercially zoned business such as a hotel or motel.
Administration and enforcement of the STA licensing program will cost the city $75,000 each year, but that cost will be fully recovered through licensing and inspection fees.
The bylaw will also place a cap on the number of licences issued if the vacancy rate drops below three per cent. In this case, it would not shut down existing units, but the city would no longer issue any new licences.
Council placed a limit on the amount of rentals allowed in multi-unit dwellings such as condos or apartment buildings. Thirty-five per cent of the units in these buildings will be allowed to be STA rentals.
Neither the licence cap nor the rental limit will apply to primary residences.
These regulations are welcomed by the Regina Hotel Association (RHA), which calls the licensing changes “fair and reasonable.”
Tracy Fahlman, RHA president and CEO, told council that the hotel industry is facing an uncertain future because of COVID-19.
“Hotel owners have suffered devastating revenue losses since March. Now more than ever we need competitive fairness,” she said.
“Regulatory changes to the residential sector of our industry will make a remarkable difference.”
In a one-year period ending November 2019, there were 947 short-term accommodation listings in Regina. Of those listings, almost half were never rented and 7 per cent were rented for more than half of the year.
STA licences will need to be renewed annually. Rentals can be denied if the unit has a number of city bylaw violations.
Licensing applications can be submitted online.
The changes will come into effect May 1, 2021.
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