Short-term rentals need a business license by year’s end in Hamilton


Published November 7, 2023 at 3:19 pm

Owners of short-term rental properties will soon require a business license in order to continue booking guests in Hamilton. This includes owners who rent out part of their primary home.

This is due to a new city bylaw set to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The bylaw introduces new licensing, fees, registration and inspection requirements, including limiting short-term rentals for operators and hosts to only their principal residence.

The city said the new requirements show their, “commitment to balance between the needs of the City of Hamilton and the evolving changes in travel and tourism, as well as meeting the City’s objectives of increasing housing supply, while also aiding homeowners with escalating housing costs.”

Council passed this bylaw in January, granting operators a year to get their affairs in order before it came into effect. The bylaw allows residents to rent out their own homes for short periods no more than 28 days long.

The city defines a primary residence as “a person lives and designates as their principal residence on government records.” People only get one principal residence and c orporations cannot own a primary residence. As such, commercial operators can no longer offer short-term rentals, such as AirBnBs, in the city.

“The objective of this requirement is to improve neighbourhood fit by ensuring personal accountability for the dwelling unit being used, and to protect the long-term rental housing market by prohibiting STR that would be considered as a commercial investment property,” the city wrote.

In November last year, the city had 1,250 homes dedicated to short-term rentals. The city found 80 per cent of these rentals occupied the entire home, while about 20 per cent rented just a room in the home.

“Hamilton is committed to fostering a vibrant and inclusive community where everyone can thrive,” said Director of Licensing and Bylaw Services Monica Ciriello,Our new short-term rental by-law reflects our dedication to responsible growth, balancing the needs of our residents and visitors alike. We believe in striking a harmonious chord between economic development and neighbourhood preservation. This by-law is a testament to our commitment to shaping a future where Hamilton remains a great place to live, work, and play.”

Anyone wishing to register their home for short-term rentals can fill out and submit an online form. However, they must also supply extensive documentation such as a full floorplan, a fire escape plan, a fully completed short-term rental questionnaire, proof of insurance and more. A full list is available from the city.

There is also a $1,000 licensing fee to rent the whole home and a $345 fee to rent part of a home. “Fees are based on the cost of administering and enforcing the regulations, and to be revenue neutral, as well as based on cost recovery,” the city said.
When Hamilton passed the bylaw, the averge cost of a house in the city was $1.03 million. However, that has since fallen to about $780,000, according to real estate tracker Zolo. In June, Hamilton ranked as 77th out of 181 Canadian cities ranked by affordability.
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