Short-term Rental Licensing

On May 10, St. Catharines City Council approved a Licensing By-law and Administrative Monetary Penalties System for the operation of short-term rentals (STRs) such as those offered on AirBnB, VRBO and Flipkey.

The system was related by-laws were developed with extensive public consultation, including in-person and virtual engagements, with a focus on the goals of:

  • Protecting the housing supply
  • Supporting opportunities for supplemental income
  • Reasonable enforcement
  • Protecting residential neighbourhood character
  • Supporting tourism

The system, along with updates to the Zoning By-law that permit STRs, come into effect via a phased roll out starting January 2022. Until that time STRs remain a prohibited use of residences in the City.

Please continue reading for more information on the definition of  STRs and the related regulatory framework that comes into effect January 2022. New information, including complete by-law documentation and licensing applications will be posted on this page as they become available. Applications for licensing are not yet open.

STR definition under Zoning By-law 

In November 2020 Council approved an amendment to the City’s Zoning By-law allowing for some STR operations in residential areas provided they aren't the primary use of the property. The property must operate first and foremost as a full-time residence, with the resident temporarily renting out the entire dwelling unit on an occasional basis. The property cannot function solely as a STR.

This limited permission ensures residential housing stock is not impacted by year-round STR operations while still allowing for property owners to capture income from their property when they are not at home.

Requirements for permitted STRs under the Zoning By-law:

  • Defined as a home based business
  • The unit is rented for a period not exceeding 28 consecutive days
  • STR is the primary residence of the operator (owner / tenant)
  • Can operate out of any residence, but must be secondary use of the property as a home-based business
  • Provision of one parking space per bedroom 
  • The entire dwelling unit is rented (operations where the operator stays and hosts guests in their unit are covered under by-laws related to the operation of a bed and breakfast)

Licensing and Enforcement

The City has established a Licensing By-law and Administrative Monetary Penalties System for the operation of STRs. The system will begin to come into effect via a phased implementation in January 2022.


STRs will be required to obtain a licence like other businesses in the city. Business licensing will ensure that the properties are in compliance with various City by-laws, the Fire Code, Building Code and other safety regulations.

Licensing will also serve to confirm the following:

  • Local contact information for complaint tracing and administration of any penalties; and
  • Limiting an operator to one licence ensuring individuals don’t set up multiple properties that are not their primary residence

Licences will require:

  • Evidence of ownership (if owner);
  • Lease agreement and Owner’s authorization (if long-term tenant);
  • Sworn statement of accuracy of information;
  • Proof of insurance;
  • Parking plan;
  • Fire safety protocol;
  • Local contact information;
  • Floor plans;
  • Site sketch;
  • Electrical Safety Code compliance evidence; and
  • Consent for inspection
  • $500 application fee applies

Licences will be valid for two years before renewal is required.

Demerit Point System

The STR licensing by-law includes non-monetary penalties by establishing a system of demerit points associated with various infractions ranging from Fire and Building Code violations to waste, parking and noise related issues. Infractions carry point weights ranging from two to 10 points. Demerit points will remain active against a licence for two years, with penalties incurred at the accumulation of five, 10 and 15 points.

Penalties include:

  • Three-month licence suspension, with right to appeal for five to nine points
  • Revocation of licence for remaining duration, with right to appeal for 10 to 15 points
  • Revocation of licence for remaining duration, with no right to appeal for 15-plus points
Infraction Demerit Point Summary
InfractionBy-law ReferenceDemerit Points
Fire Protection and Prevention Act 10
Fire Safety Protocol 9.1.6 10
Obstruction of Inspection 13.2 10
Building Code Act 8
Electrical Safety Code 8
Orders under the EMCPA 8
Reopening Ontario Act 8

Open Air Fires By-law 8
Health Protection and Promotion Act 8
Public Nuisance By-law No. 2007-295 7
Noise By-law No. 95-198 7
Fireworks By-law 7
Non-availability of responsible Person 9.1.9 4
Not posting Licence number 9.1.8 4
Not posting Licence 9.1.2 4
Not providing updated information 9.1.3 3
Parking Management Plan 9.1.5 3
Zoning By-law No. 2013-283 3
Property Standard By-law No. 2014-248 3
Waste By-law No. 2020-106 2
Garbage Collection 2

Administrative Monetary Penalty System

Establishing an Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) allow the City to levee monetary penalties against properties operating as STRS for violations of the City’s proposed licensing by-law. The system will allow the City to administer monetary penalties through an internal process, alleviating the need for taxpayer-funded resources to pursue convictions through Provincial Offences Courts.

Penalties under the AMPS range from $100 to $1,000. A monetary penalty is assessed and imposed in the form of a penalty notice with a prescribed date and time for payment. Rather than going to court to dispute a fine in front of a judge, an individual can dispute an administrative penalty with a screening or hearing officer.

AMPS Offences and Penalties
Operating STR without licence $1,000
Failure to display licence $100
Failure to provide updated information $100
Operating STR without conforming to applicable laws $400
Failure to display fire safety protocol $400
Failure to include licence number in advertisement or promotion $700
Non-availability of contact person $100
Obstruction of Director or officer $400
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