FOCA supports a philosophy of responsible use, that encourages cottage owners to:
- educate and inform guests about cottage country living and etiquette (see links to sample visitor information sheets, below)
- work with neighbours to promote harmonious relationships
- be environmental stewards by ensuring the sustainable use of cottage properties, recognizing the limits of the existing septic system, road capacity and other community considerations
- inform cottage country visitors about emergency prevention and extreme weather preparedness.
FOCA hears from members on both sides of the short-term cottage rental issue:
- those who are interested in finding out how to rent (and how to insure for rental) as part of their financial plan to keep the cottage in the face of rising costs, and
- those who have been frustrated by negative experiences with poorly-managed rental properties in their vicinity.
In 2021, FOCA convened a Board Working Group on the subject of Short-term rentals (STR) to develop a summary and guidance for our members and municipal partners about best practices related to STR. See below for the release of the Report.
Many municipalities have begun to take steps to manage short-term rentals in Ontario cottage country. Rental is regulated, or even prohibited, in some locations. See links in “Latest News” as well as “Background” below.
November 2022 – New FOCA Member resource about STR:
FOCA’s Report on Short-Term Rental in Waterfront Ontario – an overview for FOCA Member Associations and our municipal partners, created by the FOCA Short-term Rental Working Group of the Board of Directors.
Members can login below to access a copy of the 16-page report, and municipal partners are invited to contact the office for a copy.
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The following resources are only available to members of our Member Associations & current Friends of FOCA (our annual supporters). If you are already registered on the FOCA website, please login below with your Username and Password.
Related and Earlier STR News:
September 18, 2023 – the City of Kawartha Lakes has announced the launch of their new Short Term Rental Accommodation Business License Application process
Sept.14, 2023 – STR bylaw progressing in Haliburton County (The Highlander) – Council on Sept. 13 discussed moving toward the possible implementation of a regional STR bylaw with annual licenses and inspections and limits on numbers of guests, with a system of demerit points, fines and possible suspension of the license for non-compliance.
Sept.11, 2023 – Airbnb and Vrbo must be put in their place (National Observer)
July 2023 – according to the summer newsletter of our member group, the Steenburg Lake Community Association (SLCA), it appears that Limerick Township is putting on-hold the idea of introducing a new by-law regulating STR. Proposed in 2022 with subsequent public consultation, the Township will now instead try enhanced advocacy, and rely on a new educational brochure and existing by-laws to address areas of concern including excess noise, garbage disposal, and fire and water safety. In related news from SLCA, the Tudor and Cashel STR Ad-hoc Committee recommended earlier this year that their Council should focus on an education and communication campaign and reporting mechanism for complaints.
June 2023 – Citizens in Muskoka Lakes are reminded to participate by July 4, 2023 in the Township’s survey on short term rentals (STR) as the community determines how to best manage them. You will need to register an online account and provide your postal code in order to participate via the “Engage Muskoka” online portal.
May 9, 2023 – Short-term rental crackdown: New Quebec bill sets $100K fine for illegal Airbnbs (CTV)
Apr. 20, 2023 – ‘An issue that’s emerging’: City of Orillia to regulate short-term rentals (Orillia Matters) – a bylaw still needs to be passed at a later meeting, but AirBnb and other short-term accommodations (STA) will soon be regulated in Orillia.At Monday’s council meeting, city politicians approved implementing an STA licensing program, among other regulations, following the lead of numerous municipalities in Ontario that have sought ways to crack down on problematic STAs in their neighbourhoods.
April 18, 2023 – the City of Kawartha Lakes Council voted on April 18th to move ahead with their STR by-law #2023-067, implementing a soft start to the program for 2023 that includes a yearly license, insurance requirements, and an annual fee of $1,200 for an “un-hosted” accommodation.
April 17, 2023 – Port Colborne cottage rentals ‘not evil,’ but need to be regulated, says council: Formal licence system not being put in place for 2023 season (Niagara This Week)
April 11, 2023 – ‘Please do not crush my livelihood when I have done nothing wrong’: Kawartha Lakes council to decide on short-term rentals (Peterborough Examiner)
April 7, 2023 – B.C.’s short-term rental policies on track, issues with enforcement remain (Castanet) – “Approximately 50 local governments in B.C. have implemented bylaws to tackle short-term rentals and roughly 25 have business licensing that is meant to restrict these types of rentals,” but enforcement issues remain.
March 13, 2023 – Seguin Township Council rejected the recommendation from staff to introduce a STR by-law and licensing program. Instead, Councillors supported plans to review and enhance existing quality of life by-laws to deal with issues connected to STR. Read the Staff Report (download PDF, 21 pages),
February 2023 – the City of Kawartha Lakes (CKL) has released the results of their STR survey, with more than 1000 responses received (one of their top engagement results). Link to the results, and get details about an upcoming Public Information Session on February 28, 2023, posted on the CKL website.
See a partial overview of Short-Term Rental Laws in Ontario with links to related online information, from the Ontario Cottage Rental Managers Association (OCRMA; January 2023).
January 2023 – the Town of Gravenhurst’s STR accommodation program by-laws are in effect as of January 1st. All short-term rentals (STRs) will require a license from the town to be able to legally operate. There are related rules outlined for parking, posting a renter’s Code of Conduct document, noise, garbage and more. The annual license fee is $750, and penalties for not following the rules start at $1,000 and up. The licensing application and Renters’ Code of Conduct are available on the Gravenhurst website.
October 14, 2022 – Haliburton County Short-Term Rental Review: Options Report by J.L. Richards & Assoc. Ltd. (PDF, 12 pages) – recommending registration of STRs, leading to a Licensing By-law in a few months.
Oct. 5, 2022 – Short-term rentals a hot-button issue in municipal elections (Cottage Life)
Sept.13, 2022 – Minden town council rejects short-term rental’s application to rezone as a resort (Cottage Life) re: rental property on Lake Kashagawigamog in Haliburton County.
Sept. 9, 2022 – Collingwood council has expressed an interest in reviewing the local bylaw that prohibits short-term rentals in town. (CollingwoodToday.com) – The town identified approximately 300 active short-term accommodation rentals available, despite the town-wide ban. The town is concerned about how the current bylaws can be effectively enforced given the available resources. Staff anticipate reporting back to council on the matter in December.
August 2022 – listen to Terry Rees of FOCA speak with Cottage Life about cottage country short-term rentals:
August 18, 2022 – Haliburton County to phase in short-term rental regulations (The Highlander)
August 16, 2022 – Airbnb announces New anti-party technology in the US and Canada (Airbnb News)
August 11, 2022 – the Township of Tiny Council has adopted a Short-term Rental Accommodation Licensing Program with regulations to come into effect on Oct.4, 2022.
July 23, 2022 – How short-term vacation rentals are ruining the neighbourhood (Sudbury.com)
July 10, 2022 – Sales in Ontario’s cottage country have slowed, but the rental market remains strong (Globe & Mail)
June 24, 2022 – Short-term cottage rentals in Seguin? Township volleys issue back for public weigh-in (Parry Sound North Star) – STR remain banned following 2020 consultations, but a split decision by council on June 20 means the public gets to weigh in again via www.letsconnectseguin.ca.
June 9, 2022 – Short-term rental operators in Grand Bend upset with new rules (Sarnia NewsToday.ca)
June 8, 2022 – Tiny Township council has directed enforcement officers to operate on a zero tolerance mandate (i.e., no warnings) related to by-law infraction issues related to STR where evidence supports a charge against the landowner and the renter. Currently, the Township does not regulate STR, acknowledging that traditionally many residents have seasonally rented their cottages.
If you plan to rent...
Be certain to investigate with your municipality, and consider related by-laws (such as noise, parking, garbage…). Also, education of visitors is key to community harmony.
Click here to download a SAMPLE Visitor Info Sheet (pdf; 1 page) that FOCA encourages you to modify, and circulate to anyone who rents at your waterbody. This 1-page summary concisely covers topics everyone should share with visitors at the lake, including: garbage disposal; fire safety & campfires; lights and noise in cottage country; septics, phosphates and water quality. Thank you to FOCA’s Member Association, Leech Lake Cottagers’ Association, for sharing the original example info sheet with FOCA; it was created by LLCA’s Stewardship group with input from a variety of FOCA resources, including our publication, Take the Plunge.
Be Prepared for Emergencies:
In the event of an emergency, it is critical that renters are able to quickly and accurately relay the required information to emergency service providers. FOCA recommends that each waterfront home – rental or not – have a handy and visible list of emergency phone numbers posted somewhere prominent. Having accurate information at-hand will aid in directing first responders to your location which is critical information that may save a life, and that (in a panic) may be hard to translate or describe, especially if a guest or others less familiar with your location are making the call.
Create your own call list, or adapt this handy example from FOCA to add all the relevant information for your location. Help our first responders to get to you when you need them most.
Please note: the following is archival material, and some links to third-party resources may no longer be active.