The issue of renting out condos and chalets in Blue Mountain has been much talked about, including on this blog since 2008. It has raised anger, praise, legal challenges, public meetings, lobbyist efforts, potentially staff and political changes and most of all, confusion.
First, the issue pertains only to properties that are being rented out on a short term basis of under 30 days at a time. For example, renting out a condo or chalet for a week-end or for a couple of weeks are the types of situations covered under the STA (short term accommodation) by-law. Renting out seasonally or annually are not affected.
If you are thinking about buying an income property in the Collingwood or Blue Mountain area, it is critically important that you understand this bylaw if you intend to rent out your property short term. You can expect the bylaw to be strictly enforced.
In a nutshell, the current by-law says that properties must be licenced in order to rent out for periods of less than 30 days OR, they must be in a development where at least ten units under the management of one management program. For example, if you own a condo in the Village at Blue Mountain where ALL units are managed by Blue Mountain, then there is no problem. Outside of the Village it gets trickier. Let’s say you own a condo in Cachet Crossing that you wish to rent out and manage on your own. You would need to be licensed in order to do so. These “Phas 2” condos around the mountain were originally required to be licensed by December 1st of this year however, as of November 24th 2014, implementation has been delayed pending further consultation and study. The current licensing requirements are fairly onerous and expensive so my guess is that many people are just going to give up.
One of the surprises in the most recent amendments is that Mountain Springs Resort and Cachet Crossing have been included as areas needing licencing. The reason I find this surprising is that they are different from the rest as they enjoy Commercial Resort zoning. The by-law specifically states that commercial resort units are exempt but after heavy lobbying on the part of STA Property Managers, it has now been included in the by-law. I’d like to see a legal challenge on that can of worms! In fact, the implementation of this amended by-law is being challenged by Blue Mountain and others resulting in the implementation delay referred to above.
While the by-law was originally driven by valid complaints from residential property owners, it has taken on a life of its own over the past 6 years and, in my opinion, has morphed into a bureaucratic mess that protects very few other than rental agents who will benefit from this. They formed an effective lobby group and it paid off for them.
So, if you are thinking about buying an investment property in Blue Mountain, stick to seasonal or annual rentals unless you locate in the Village or can find a licensed unit until such time as this mess is sorted out. If on the other hand you are looking for a property you can enjoy yourself and or rent out seasonally, now is a great time to buy! (Hint: Seasonal rentals can often generate as good a net income as short term rentals and they are permitted without licensing. )