City says licensing ‘one step’ in regulating short-term rentals in Winnipeg

Airbnbs are now under new regulations and some hope the new regulations will create a more accountable short-term rental market in Winnipeg.

As of April 1, Airbnb and other short-term rental hosts now require a business licence as part of the new rules with short-term rentals brought after February 23, 2023, now requiring owners be permanent residents of Winnipeg, can only own one short-term rental and can only rent out their primary residence.

Owners who bought properties before, must be a permanent resident, or a corporation wholly owned by a Winnipeg resident, and can own up to four existing rentals.

RELATED: Winnipeg short-term rental rules ‘disheartening’ for small owners

“Whether it’s criminal activities, parties, bad neighbours, people coming and going there’s just all sorts of things happening that just doesn’t make it a home,” said Sinan Leylek, who owns a condo and sits on the board of a building on Hargrave Street where numerous short-term rentals are present.

“It’s nice to see that there’s regulations now and it’s not just a free-for-all.”

While he called the new regulations “bittersweet” he’d like to see them go even further; restricting hosts from renting properties that are not their primary residence, and limiting how many AirBnbs can be present in one building, saying while hosts reap the profits, its condo boards who foot the bill for any damages caused by guests.

“Short-term rental guests don’t treat the property the same as a resident would,” said Leylek.

City officials say hundreds of hosts have already applied to operate short-term rentals under the new regulations, but numbers are lower than anticipated, as they estimated originally there’d be about 900 making the bid.

“To-date, we’ve received 425 applications, so they’re definitely coming in very quickly,” said Terry Cormier, City of Winnipeg’s Licensing Co-ordinator, Community Services Department. 

However, he stressed licensing is only part of the focus, as any issues around neighbourhood safety, industry fairness or operator accountability will also be under the city’s enforcement umbrella, saying the transition will take time. 

“The key piece is really that even though the April 1 day is here and we’re looking at licensing all the short-term rental businesses, that’s only one-step in a very large process.” 

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