Calgary weighs up fresh regulations and licensing fees

Canada: Short-term rental hosts in Calgary will be subject to new licensing fees, safety regulations and possible $1,000 penalties if a city committee approves proposed bylaw changes.

Speaking to the Calgary Eyeopener, councillor Druh Farrell said it was time for the city to step up efforts to ensure guests and hosts’ safety in Airbnb-type rentals and address the surge in popularity for the sharing economy.

Farrell said: “Sands are shifting under our feet, and we’re just grappling with how to deal with the impacts. What this is meant to do is not to discourage but to regulate — to regulate safety and proper behaviour so that if a short-term rental moves into your neighbourhood, they’re good neighbours.”

The city committee is mulling over implementing a two-tiered licence system, with the first tier covering one- to four- bedroom apartments for a $100 annual fee, and the second tier covering five- or more bedroom properties for $191 in addition to the cost of a fire inspection.

Under the proposed new regulations, no more than two guests are allowed to share a room, each bedroom must have a window, and hosts cannot book multiple bookings at one time. Violation of the rules can incur fines of up to $1,000 for hosts and licences can be revoked by city authorities. 

According to an Airbnb press release, hosts in Calgary earned $18 million over this year’s summer season, with more than 137,000 guest arrivals recorded between 24 May and 2 September. That represents a 35 per cent increase since the same period in 2018.

Alexandra Dagg, director of public policy for Canada, told CBC News: “Airbnb is providing important supplemental income for families in Calgary that helps make their lives more affordable.

“We welcome the City of Calgary’s move toward regulating home-sharing and look forward to continuing to support the city through this new chapter of regulation,” added Dagg.

The city’s new bylaw, if approved, would come into effect on 1 February 2020.

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