CARLING TWP. - Carling Township is standing behind its waterfront rental ban.
Pam and Danny Strelec received legal notice that they can no longer rent their Georgian Bay shoreline property out during summer months, or they risk fines of up to $25,000 for violating township bylaws. The home is now for sale.
North Star file photo
Carling resident Danny Strelec received a letter from a lawyer informing him that he has 30 days to stop renting out his property or else face legal proceedings. Defying the bylaw carries a fine of up to $25,000.
Strelec has been fighting the township since early this summer when they first enforced the longstanding ban on renting out waterfront properties in Carling.The enforcement comes on the heels of a June 2011 Ontario Municipal Board decision upholding another municipality’s ban on short-term rentals in residential areas.
“The township is wrong,” said Strelec. “They told me we can’t rent our house out period - not for one week, not ever because that’s considered a business. We’re not running a bed and breakfast, and we’re not running a hotel - we’re renting our house out.”
Since 2004, Strelec has been routinely renting out his Georgian Bay home for a few weeks during the summer.
If cottage rental websites are anything to go on, Strelec is far from the only person in the region who rents out his lakefront home. If he was in a nearby municipality he would likely not be having the same kind of challenges. Bylaw enforcement officers in nearby municipalities, including Seguin Township and the Township of Georgian Bay, say they have no restrictions on lakefront owners who wish to rent out their property.
In Carling Township there are many properties presently listed on rental websites as being available for periods of the summer in 2013. The township said they enforce the bylaw following complaints.
“There are my neighbours two, three houses down who are also renting their house out, and they’re not doing anything about it, but their picking on me because of my [neighbour], Strelec said.
The whole issue kicked off after the Strelecs lodged a complaint in the spring about the state of their neighbour’s backyard, which they claim has lowered the value of their property. Shortly thereafter a complaint was filed against the Strelecs about the fact they rent out their property, and accusing them of renting their boat out - another activity the bylaw prevents.
In August, Strelec’s wife appealed to council for leniency on the ban.
She argued that the ban is based on an incorrect interpretation of the bylaw that they believe is discriminatory to people living on the water. Following that deputation, Strelec said municipal officials told them they would get back to them in the future.
“The way they got back to us is we got a letter saying they’re going to take us to court now. I don’t know where he gets the information that we’re renting boats out of our property,” said Strelec referring to the letter he received from the lawyer. “That’s incorrect. He doesn’t even have his facts straight. The boat’s for sale and the house is for sale.”
The municipality has defended the ban by saying there are many reasons why rental properties aren’t the most desirable things to have on the lakefront. One reason is the increased likelihood renters will behave inconsiderately.
Gord Harrison, mayor of Carling Township, said the ban protects residents from the kinds of problems that come from living near a business.
“The idea in limiting commercial use in residential areas is there are a number of commercial uses, whether you are talking about rentals or stores or stuff like that, when its commercial there is more traffic and more noise. It’s not a quiet neighborhood,” Harrison said.
Carling waterfront residents wanting to rent their property and to stay in compliance with the bylaw could attempt to rezone their properties.
However, this would be very unlikely as the official plan does not currently allow new waterfront commercial properties, the mayor said.
Harrison said the municipality will continue to act on properties they receive complaints against.
“We’ve had a couple more complaints that our staff are looking into right now. We have the one before us, which is taking most of our attention right now but from my understanding there are a couple of others,” said Harrison.
Strelec has received support from a number of local sources. When his wife spoke to council, she came armed with a letter written by the president of the Parry Sound and Area Association of Realtors that was written in favour of the couple.
Dennis Trinaistich, a local lawyer who specializes in planning and development, said the ban could have troubling consequences for property owners.
“It’s a little bit disturbing because what municipalities are trying to do is disrupt people’s abilities to deal with their land. If you want to rent your space to somebody, who would care?” said Trinaistich.
“I’m really not sure what’s behind it, but it seems to me there are a number of municipalities that are interfering with people’s ability to lease or rent their land, including Danny, and I don’t think it’s right.”