Charlottetown to start enforcing short-term rental regulations in 2 weeks

Mayor Philip Brown says Charlottetown is the first city in the Atlantic region to bring in regulations for short-term rentals.  (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Mayor Philip Brown says Charlottetown is the first city in the Atlantic region to bring in regulations for short-term rentals. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Two weeks before enforcement is expected to start, more details are emerging about how Charlottetown's new short-term rental regulations will work.

However, there's still no information on how much offenders will be fined, or how much enforcement might cost.

A licensing by-law for short term rentals passed first reading at council's regular meeting Monday night, and an update on the process has been posted on the city's website.

"I'm pretty proud of how we've come this far, and now it's actually going in place," Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said in an interview Tuesday.

The main focus of the new city bylaw is restricting short-term rentals or STRs to rooms or suites within the owner's primary residence. Separate apartments cannot be rented out in most circumstances.

The update on the city's site spells out what a "primary residence" is in greater detail. Other details include:

  • "A maximum of four bedrooms in the owner's principal dwelling unit can be dedicated to the operation."

  • "No kitchen and/or cooking appliances are permitted in a guest room."

  • "The operator does not have to be present at the time of stay if the entire dwelling unit is rented."

  • "No more than one booking may be permitted for a short-term rental lodging in each Dwelling Unit at one time."

  • "One additional onsite parking space is required for the STR," with some exceptions allowed in downtown Charlottetown between Euston Street and the Port of Charlottetown.

As well, owners will be required to renew their mandatory licences every year and the city will give out validation stickers that must be prominently displayed in a door or window.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

The new rules were the result of a sometimes-contentious debate over whether and how the city should regulate people buying up properties in P.E.I.'s capital city for the purpose of fixing them up and renting them out for short stays on sites like AirBnB.

Housing activists blamed the phenomenon for the increasingly tight long-term rental market in the city, saying property owners were taking units out of operation for traditional tenants because they could make more money renting them to a rotating cast of tourists for the peak season.

Many property owners said their rentals were important for P.E.I.'s tourism industry, and pointed out that they had made extensive renovations to some properties based on the higher cumulative rents they would be getting for the units.

Once those units had to go on the long-term rental market, some said, the rents they would have to charge would be far above what housing activists would consider affordable.

Daniel Krason/Shutterstock
Daniel Krason/Shutterstock

Grace period almost up

Charlottetown amended its Zoning and Development By-law in February 2022 so that short-term rentals could be regulated, but allowed a one-year grace period for property owners to adjust. Enforcement is to start on March 28.

"We will be diligent in how we implement and enforce the short-term rental bylaw," Brown said.

The mayor said people could phone or email the city if they have concerns about a property, and a bylaw enforcement officer would follow up.

Brown said the city has yet to work out what the fines will be if rules aren't followed, and what kind of operating budget will be needed to pay for enforcement.