Short Term Rental Accommodation in Cobourg

Originally thought of as “Home-Sharing”, AirBnb, VRBO and others have turned Short Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) into big business where investors buy properties specifically with the intent to rent them out for short terms – less than a month and as short as a day or so.  Neighbours are usually not happy with this; they say that renters often cause problems with community safety, parking, noise and litter, as well as degrading property values and destroying the sense of community.  There have been delegations to Council asking for action – in October 2021 and at Monday’s Committee of the Whole (C.O.W.) meeting.

At Monday’s C.O.W. Grant Hayes, president of Guardian/Genedco Property Management, representing a large proportion of Cobourg’s Condo Owners, said the problem was urgent and asked for an interim control by-law but Council seemed to want to move quickly with the full rezoning and By-law changes.

According to a report to Council by Brent Larmer, there are currently 98 STRA listings in Cobourg and one source tells me that one owner has 30 of these.

Brent has mapped the known STRAs in Cobourg:

Cobourg Short Term Rental Locations
Cobourg Short Term Rental Locations

Two other citizens spoke of the need to act .

As well as objections by Condo owners and neighbours, owners of hotel Businesses (e.g. the Best Western) object to “commercial use of residential Properties which are not the primary residence of the owner.”  They are bypassing the health and safety standards required for Hotels and B & B’s.

Apart from the concerns of neighbours, allowing STRA’s reduces the number of rental properties available – especially if the properties are used only for short terms as many in Cobourg seem to be.

Condos can change their rules to prohibit anything less than (say) six months (if they have not already done so) but this has an enforcement problem.  Nevertheless, Condo boards will no doubt make sure that their by-laws do not allow STRAs.

Brent identified three types of STRAs

  1. Located in Primary residence and Host is present – e.g. B & B
  2. Entire primary residence is occupied by STR and no host is present
  3. Not in a primary residence and no host present – e.g. commercial Investment properties.

Proposed licensing etc. must consider all types

Proposed Solution (summary/highlights)

Two changes are needed:

  • Re-zoning  to define STRAs and include them in requirements
  • A Licensing By-law establishing the requirement that all STRAs be licensed and subject to Municipal requirements

Proposed Rezoning changes

  • B & B’s are subject to the same requirements
  • A Short Term Rental Accommodation use shall only be permitted on a lot where the landowner occupies one of the dwelling units and meets the criteria of a Principal Dwelling Residence. [This would deny a licence to someone with more than one STRA unit].
  • The maximum number of guest rooms in a short term rental accommodation is three.
  • The use of accessory dwelling units as a short term rental accommodation is prohibited.
  • Download proposed Zoning changes in Resources below

Proposed Licensing requirements

  • A licence shall be obtained for each location from which a trade is carried on.
  • Properties must comply with the Property Standards By-Law
  • The application for a licence must include:
    • A floor plan that identifies and describes, minimally:
      • All exits;
      • All windows;
      • All rooms, and identifying which bedrooms will be rented; and,
      • All spaces and common areas.
    • Proof of Liability insurance for $2M
    • A contact must be provided who will respond 24/7 within one hour.
    • If a Condo, proof that the Condo board has approved [Most Condo boards would not approve]
  • The S.T.R. Operator will provide all Renters with a copy of the Visitor’s Code (provided by the Town) and shall request that all Renters abide by the Visitor’s Code;
  • Each person who contravenes any provision of the bylaw would be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine for each day or part of a day that the offence continues, a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $100,000.  The fines need to be enough to negate any financial advantage of non-compliance.
  • Download draft by-law from Resources below.


Given the above requirements, it’s clear that STRs

  • Would be discouraged in Cobourg
  • Would not be allowed in Condos
  • One person would not be allowed to operate multiple units – they must normally live in the STRA.
  • The next step is a public meeting on 30 October to gather input from both sides of the debate.  It’s hoped the final rezoning and by-law changes will be in place by the end of the year.
  • It’s understood that additional staff will be required for managing and enforcing licences but the cost can be recovered with fees.


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7 months ago

One thing that we seem to all be missing is the fact that the Town unlike the STR Landlords
Non Residents are using our Home as Profit Centers now Accomodation Tax
which I see no way of Tracking $$$$ if this Town is going to rely on Self reporting of Income
then they are Crazy .
They are considered many Cases Blackmarket Landlords and Hotel operators . Nor can we track what the Town is Really doing with this Tax.
It certainly is not going back in to the already heavily Taxed properties Condo / Apartment Buildings that are Now being and about to be used by the Town as well as PROFIT CENTERS on the backs and out of the pockets of the Owners in these Buildings . Who do they think maintains and up keeps these properties and common areas Ie: parking , Lobbies , Hallways , Elevators , Security Needs , landscape ,structures etc etc Not to mention the fact that our Liability insurance Policies and cost will go through the roof as our Risk status from Residential to Commercial Changes . This has already been confirmed by the Management Co .
These Accomodation Taxes need to go back to the Condo Corps. Landlords of Large Apt . Buildings and the Hotels that these operations will be taking income and jobs from .
that all pay Taxes and Source deductions, and benefits to and on their employees .
This New Tax and Income source is ours and rightfully stay in our Buildings .
THESE ARE OUR HOMES NOT Vacation Hotels and Income centers

Burton Cheryl
7 months ago

How come no one is thinking of the good things these bring to the town. ie eating in our beautiful restaurants, shopping

Reply to  Burton Cheryl
7 months ago

Because many people from Cobourg (not me) don’t like Torontonian strangers using our precious beach, sidewalks, stores, taking up space in restaurants, parking on our streets or using our garbage/recycling bins…they are viewed as a cost, a nuisance, add nothing of value and are a source of annoyance.

Compared to the addicted encampers, I think the Torontonians visitors are looking pretty good these days…

Give me a break
Reply to  Rob
7 months ago

Most of the so called Torontonians …… just do day trips …. Doubt if many use an AirBnB or can afford one. …. And most from Durham and not Toronto …

Reply to  Give me a break
7 months ago

Curious – How do you know their finances or where they live?

Reply to  Burton Cheryl
7 months ago

Loss of business to hotel industry
Contravention of Condo rules
In some cases noise, lack of caring for maintenance devaluing property with no owner on site
Usurping in a very tight rental market
Possible abuse of grants to create rentals within owned homes
These are some of the reasons Cheryl been very poorly governed.

Give me a break
Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

And most importantly …… cut down the number of available rentals for those living or working in town …..

Reply to  Give me a break
7 months ago

See Point 3 Give me a break

Reply to  Dave
7 months ago

Correction Point 4

Mrs. Anonymous
Reply to  Burton Cheryl
7 months ago

With these STR regulations, people can still come to our town and use our restaurants and shopping. It just means there are some basic regulations and tools to make it fairer for all.

Give me a break
7 months ago

Although heresay ….. 30 of 98 STRA !!!!!!! wonder where and in what condition.

Reply to  Give me a break
7 months ago

The Numbers stated by the Town were understated once again .
If you checked all the Webb sites for STVR short term vacation rentals
during Peak Vacation time s there are 148 Rental units avail .
Not as stated by the Town last night and probably off Tourism Peak time

Mrs. Anonymous
7 months ago

It’s about time. Better late than never though. Enforcement will be key to the success of the initiative. Certainly the platforms themselves are not helpful in any real way at all. (For example Airbnb allows fake permit numbers where permits are required)

I agree with Mr. Larmer and Ms. Mutton that the permit fee is too low as it does not cover the cost to the taxpayer.

Cobourg Taxpayer
7 months ago

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Council did move forward quickly with the full rezoning and bylaw changes for this issue? We can only hope that the other urgent issues this town is facing will then also be dealt with as quickly and bring Cobourg back to some semblance of a feel good town and normalcy.

Reply to  Cobourg Taxpayer
7 months ago

And a Place You Want to Live In
and feel Safe AGAIN

Reply to  Cobourg Taxpayer
7 months ago

Maybe not for all , but for me for me the town getting ahead of the drug addicts homeless by their choices is top of that list of issues.
My neighbour, a young man l’ve known since he was a toddler, was assaulted last Friday as he was home for his lunch break, on his own property by a fellow visiting Transition House. There is a video on Today’s Northumberland detailing this horrific event.
Transition House presents as a haven for people needing direction and assisstance collecting themselves and moving forward. The result is a magnet for those preying on the downdrodden by coasting by selling drugs to keep them in a state of reliance.
The result of that is a collection of folks in various agitated states and hostility towards each other and anyone nearby loitering and languishing around Transition House…..hence this assault, the second to one of my neighbours and reported to police.
Also the property at T. H. and immediate neighbours is littered with refuse, drug residue and paraphinalia, cigarette butts, grocery carts, coffee spills, graffiti on the building and the Trinity Church, human fluids and l have seen human waste
This ,in my opinion , should be addressed daily by Transition House to make this operation more community friendly. Minimum, a hosing of the public sidewalk to freshen the public experience as one walks by….through the gauntlet.

7 months ago

It should be obvious:
For the inclusion of a “Guest Room” or “Bedroom” or “Den” it is hoped that as for present building codes it is defined as a “Room” with an egress window 18 inches from the floor, and not an unreachable ceiling sunlight or roof light, for it to be occupied by “2 people.”