New rules in effect for operators of short-term rentals in Winnipeg


The City of Winnipeg amendments to the bylaws regulating short-term rental accommodations came into effect on April 1, 2024, ushering in a new set of rules that include licensing requirements and fee schedules.  

In the fall of 2023, the City of Winnipeg amended the Winnipeg Zoning By-law No. 200/2006, the Downtown Winnipeg Zoning By-law No. 100/2004, The Community Safety Business Licensing By-law No. 91/2008, The Accommodation Tax By-law No. 70/2008, and The Municipal By-law Enforcement Act Enabling By-law No. 59/2016 to regulate short-term rental accommodations (STRAs) in the city.

These changes come at a time when condo owners have sounded the alarm, citing safety concerns, and the housing crisis persists across Canada.

The City of Winnipeg stated the goal of the licensing regime is to set standards for community safety, consumer safety, neighbourhood accountability, and equity in the accommodations industry.

According to a Desjardins report, STRAs have contributed to the global housing affordability crisis. The report shows a correlation between Airbnb activity, one of the most popular platforms to list STRAs, and higher long-term rental prices across 19 Canadian cities with STRAs.

As of November 2023, it is estimated that there are 1,573 STRA listings in Winnipeg. Of those listings, 1,148 are estimated to be entire homes or condo units, making up 73% of all STRA listings, while 424 are individual rooms.

The City estimates that it will earn approximately $566,000 per year through licensing fees and $900,000 per year from tax revenue. License revenue is expected to cover the cost of regulating the industry, while tax dollars will go toward staff salaries and software.

According to the City of Winnipeg, STRAs are “temporary accommodations rented for payment by a property owner or a primary tenant for a continuous period of less than 30 nights.” In addition to properties rented through Airbnb or Vrbo, STRAs also include bed-and-breakfasts that are offered within the owner’s residence.

What You Need to Know if You are a Short-Term Rental Operator

As of April 1, 2024, a City of Winnipeg business license is mandatory to provide STRAs for compensation. This requirement applies to both rental operators and rental platforms.

If an operator has not filed for a license by the April 1 deadline, it is not permitted to operate an STRA following that date. Operators who have filed for a license by the April 1 deadline are permitted to continue operating pending approval. Licenses must be renewed annually based on the date of issue, and operators require a separate license for each STRA property.

Also, beginning on April 1, 2024, STRA operators must collect tax on all rentals. Tax should be paid quarterly, with the first payment due in July 2024. According to the City, more information will be provided on how to make payments.

Under the current framework, there is a limit of four licenses per operator. One license is available to individuals (not corporations or partnerships) who run an STRA from their primary residence, while three additional licenses are available for non-primary residences owned on or prior to February 23, 2023.

A primary residence is a dwelling unit that is owned or rented by an individual, either alone or jointly with other individuals, pursuant to a lease or rental agreement and where the individual lives for the majority of the year. A non-primary residence is a dwelling unit that is not the operator’s primary residence.

STRA License Application Requirements and Fees

An application for an STRA license or renewal includes the following:

  1. Submitting a completed application form, including, where the STRA is a condominium, an approval letter from the condominium corporation;
  2. Disclosing the details of any past noise complaints that have been made to the Winnipeg Police Service pertaining to the proposed STRA during the time that it has been owned or rented by the applicant;
  3. Providing a floor plan showing the number of bedrooms and fire exits within the proposed STRA; and
  4. Paying the license fee and any other applicable fees.

If any information provided during the application process changes, the applicant must inform the City within 10 days.

Fee Structure

According to the City of Winnipeg, the fee structure for STRA licenses is as follows:

Primary Residence - $260

Non-Primary Residence – Tier 1 – 1 bedroom property - $260

Non-Primary Residence – Tier 2 – 2 bedroom property - $520

Non-Primary Residence - Tier 3 – 3 bedroom property - $780

Non-Primary Residence - Tier 4 –  4 bedroom property - $1,040

Non-Primary Residence - Tier 5 - 5 bedroom property - $1,300

Non-Primary Residence - Tier 6 - 6 bedroom property (maximum) - $1,560

Conditions of Primary Residence STRA Licenses

An individual may obtain one STRA license for their primary residence. A partnership or corporation cannot own a primary residence and an individual cannot have more than one primary residence. In order to obtain a primary residence STRA license, the following must be proven in addition to fulfilling the general application requirements:

  1. The premises in which the primary residence is located has been legally established; and
  2. Adequate documentation confirming one of the following must be provided:

a. The applicant is the owner of the proposed STRA; or
b. If the applicant is the tenant of a rented unit, a letter from the owner or their designate authorizing its use as an STRA must be provided.

If the operator is not spending the night in the primary residence when it is rented, the residence may not be rented for more than 150 nights in total during a one-year period. There is no limit on the number of nights a primary residence STRA can be rented during a one-year period if the operator remains in the residence during those nights.

Conditions of Non-Primary Residence STRA Licenses

An applicant must provide evidence sufficient for the designated employee to reasonably conclude that the applicant is one of the following:

  1. An individual whose primary residence is within the boundaries of the city of Winnipeg (i.e. the owner of the property must be a Winnipeg resident);
  2. A partnership whose members all have primary residences within the boundaries of the city of Winnipeg; or
  3. A corporation whose shareholders all have primary residence within the boundaries of the city of Winnipeg.

If one of the three conditions is met, in order to obtain a non-primary residence STRA license, the following must be proven in addition to fulfilling the general application requirements:

  1. An STRA must be a permitted use under the applicable zoning by-law on which the property is located;
  2. The premises in which the dwelling unit is located has been legally established; and
  3. The dwelling unit must have been owned by the applicant on or before February 23, 2023.

Additionally, in order to obtain a non-primary residence STRA or a renewal, the applicant must provide:

  1. The name and contact information of an individual who is authorized by the owner to address any legal issue or complaints; and
  2. A safety plan that entails floors plans that identify the location of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits at the time of application.

Unlike primary residence STRAs, there are no limits on the total number of nights a non-primary residence STRA may be rented during a one-year period. However, a non-primary residence STRA license may be deemed to permanently expire where the STRA is subject to a rental agreement of more than 30 days, or where the ownership of the property changes, including change in the membership of the partnership or change in the ownership of the corporation that owns the property.

What You Need to Know if You Are a Condo Corporation

In the STRA application process, the main role of a condominium corporation is to provide the required letter of approval in support of the STRA application. If a condominium corporation’s documents do not prohibit STRAs, it is our view that the condominium board must provide the required letter of approval. However, as the STRA regulations are so new, there is currently no information regarding the contents of the letter of approval.

If a condominium corporation is concerned about STRAs in their building, it should review their condominium documents and consult a lawyer about whether the language therein is sufficient to prohibit STRAs and, if not, what changes are necessary to do so.

Additionally, it is important to note that the existence of an STRA license does not preclude the operator from following the condominium declaration, rules, and bylaws in addition to the City of Winnipeg By-laws. However, a breach of City of Winnipeg By-laws does not always mean a breach of the condominium corporation documents. A condominium board can only take action for a breach of the condominium declaration, rules, or bylaws, but cannot take action for breach of city bylaws.

Insight was posted on June 21, with a report from Sydney Newman.