WINDSOR, ONT. -- A draft by-law is in the works at Windsor City Hall that aims to bring in new rules to regulate short-term rentals offered by platforms like Airbnb.

On Monday, council gave direction to administration to prepare a draft by-law that would follow the model used in Vaughan, a municipality north of Toronto, that would limit short-term rentals to primary residences only.

“It’s a major component,” said Jo-Anne Gignac, the Ward 6 councillor in Windsor, of the need for the primary residency stipulation. “Investors might take up two houses and then parcel it out and rent out as an Airbnb – that takes up a rental residence that would be suitable for a family.”

Gignac, who brought forward the issue in a council question in May of 2017, points to the need to protect rental stock in the city and the need to ensure safety of the rental units as key drivers of the by-law.

The veteran city councillor says the short-term rentals have been a concern among her constituents and wants to ensure “there are checks and balances” as far as Airbnb rentals are concerned.

In the report to council, the short-term rental accommodations market was noted as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the travel and hospitality sector; which has seen many municipalities in the province begin to introduce by-laws to regulate the sector.

In an email to CTV News, Nathan Rotman, Airbnb Public Policy Manager in Canada, calls the proposed by-law a “regressive and redundant” approach to home-sharing regulation.

“Windsor is an example of a municipality where we have had great success in entering into a tax agreement which has benefited the city through additional revenue, however, the draft by-law that Windsor City Council has decided to pursue will have negative impacts on the visitor economy and local hosts,” said Rotman in a statement.

The Vaughan model Coun. Gignac has requested Windsor’s by-law resemble would permit short-term rentals within most housing types with the following guidelines:

  •  Annual licence for operators
  • Proof rental unit is contained within operator’s primary residence
  • Vulnerable Sector Police Record Check
  • $2-million liability insurance
  • Building and Fire Code compliant
  • Must allow any inspection of the rental unit deemed necessary by the licensing authority

In his statement, Rotman says most Airbnb hosts are “regular people sharing their residential homes a few nights each month in order to help make ends meet.”

However, Gignac says a balance needs to be struck to address concerns of renters and homeowners in the city where some short-term rentals operate more like hotels.

“I think [the proposed by-law] goes a long way to addressing the concerns,” said Gignac. “We’re also looking at the fact that we know in the city there are owners of residential units that are not the primary residence.”

According to an online survey conducted by the city, most respondents are in favour of allowing short-term rentals across several housing categories including both primary residences and investment properties, with general regulation supported by 43 per cent of those surveyed.

The survey was conducted between February 11 and March 6 of this year and gathered responses from 418 residents.

Gignac expects the draft by-law to be back before council by the end of the year or early in 2021.