Regulation of Short-Term Rental Properties: Key Considerations

For decades in Manitoba, the “land of 100,000 lakes”, property owners in municipalities across the province have made their cabins, homes and other forms of properties available for short-term rental… Learn More

Author(s): Erin Lawlor Forsyth

published 09/27/2023

For decades in Manitoba, the “land of 100,000 lakes”, property owners in municipalities across the province have made their cabins, homes and other forms of properties available for short-term rental to families, groups and individuals wishing to vacation in lake country. Over the past several years, popularity and demand for short-term rental properties and accommodations through platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo has continued to grow. This is due in part to travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic and increased interest in local tourism and accommodations.

In the circumstances, the regulation of short-term rental properties has become a current and pressing issue for municipalities. Several considerations for municipalities include the impact of short-term rental properties on local housing markets, supporting local tourism, legality under zoning by-laws and regulations, and compatibility with surrounding neighbourhoods.

As municipalities have taken steps to effectively regulate the use of short-term rental properties, the number of court challenges to municipal by-laws incorporating these regulations has grown, often stemming from confusion over the new regulatory framework.

Whether you are a property owner, developer, contractor, design professional or municipal government, clear communication, transparency and understanding of the process for establishing lawful short-term rental accommodations is critical, as municipalities may have new regulations in place or may be in the process of implementing a new regulatory framework.

For municipalities, in implementing a regulation strategy for short-term rental properties, it is important to consider:

  • the nature and extent of short-term rental properties currently operating in the area;
  • areas of community concern as well as the interests of short-term rental owners;
  • the extent to which current zoning by-laws and regulations allow the operation of short-term rental properties or whether amendments are required;
  • new by-laws or amendments to existing by-laws to provide for the regulation and licensing of short-term rental properties;
  • establishing a logical, clear and transparent regulatory framework and process for new and existing short-term rental properties, with public awareness.

For property owners, contractors and design professionals following a municipality’s process for establishing and operating short-term rental properties, it is important to consider:

  • whether the municipality has been informed of a property owner’s intention to use a property for short-term rental accommodation so that the process is clear, including order of steps and timelines involved;
  • whether the municipality’s zoning by-law and regulations permit the use of a property for short-term rental accommodation and whether a conditional use approval may be required;
  • the municipality’s by-laws which set out licensing and regulation requirements for short-term rental properties, commonly contained in short-term rental licensing and business licensing by-laws;
  • that the municipal by-laws may contain regulations requiring compliance with a municipality’s building by-law, the Manitoba Building Code and Fire Code, and that several permits and inspections may be required;
  • that the municipality may require that adequate property damage and liability coverage be in place from insurance providers;
  • the time and expense that will be incurred to achieve compliance with municipal requirements.

Overall, it is important to know the process for establishing a short-term rental property at the outset of any project. Clear communication, transparency and understanding are critical to the long-term success of a short-term rental property.

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