Local Home Owner Impact Reports About Disruptive STRs

Short Term Rentals have disrupted the life of residents and their families in Oro-Medonte and beyond. Here is just a sampling of neighbours telling their stories in their own words. Some of these residents have been subjected to verbal abuse and threats of physical violence by renters and owners, so we have withheld their identities. As you read through these reports, consider what it would be like if you lived next to one of these.  Would you be happy? We have chosen to include reports from across Simcoe County, the County that includes Oro-Medonte.  Home owners of Oro-Medonte are not alone in opposing disruptive STRs.

(The reports below have all been excerpted from letters submitted by residents to and/or published by local Township officials, the media and MPPs. Please note that we have redacted some names and addresses with “XXXX” to further protect the safety and privacy of the home owners.) 

Please click on any of the reports following the summaries below: 

My husband and I have just gone through a terrible weekend with the STR next door. This is the first noisy one for the season due to the Covid restrictions. I have learned that even ten people can generate as much noise as a group of twenty. They had their music blaring day and night. Since we have no daytime noise bylaw, we had to endure their music reverberating through our property and house. They were up until all hours of the night with their music once again at top volume. Around two o’clock in the morning they were all outside making all kinds of noise.

I spoke twice with them about being quieter, once during the day and once at around one o’clock in the morning. I was told to move somewhere where there are no people around. I was also told to get with the times. I guess they think that the times involve having noise next door to you for twenty four hours straight.

I did not call bylaw or the police because I felt too exhausted and demoralized to do it. It hasn’t changed anything in all of my past calls. The owner has not received a fine and the guests just keep on coming.

It is my sincere hope that my mayor and Council will step up and enforce their existing bylaw. I really don’t want to leave my home which has been in the family since 1917. I love my home, this property and Oro Medonte.
.. we have owned our home on XXXX since 2009. We have enjoyed the neighbourhood and the community. We have always felt safe, secure and happy up until XXXXX was purchased and converted to a commercial rental property/STR 4 years ago. From that time, there has not been any residential use but an assortment of tenants occupying the property. The majority of the tenants have been loud and obnoxious and we have had to put up with: continuous loud music, loud conversation and yelling non-stop game play with yelling and screaming, foul language, intoxicated tenants, unsafe bon fires.

My wife is in constant stress when there are people at the properties. She’s annoyed by the disturbance and ignorance of the tenants, but is fearful and concerned about our safety and potential retaliation from these transients to the point where she is worries about any noise we make while using power equipment such as the lawn mower, power trimmer, saws, etc., as it can, and has, been perceived as antagonistic by the intoxicated tenants which in turn crank up their noise level.

We used to enjoy entertaining our family and friends at our property and in our community. They used to love coming to (the) area… Some of our friends were looking to purchase properties in the neighbourhood. 4 years ago everything changed. They are no longer interested in properties in OroMedonte …
I too have an issue with a very large short term accommodation corporation that has recently been established next door to our recreational cottage property on XXXX Lake. Our property is modest by today’s standards but has been in our family since my Grandparents bought it in 19YY and has been well loved and cared for by four generations of our family since then. However, since the property next door is now in continuous use accommodating between 14 and 20 people almost every day in the summer, our ability to enjoy our property has been greatly diminished….”Any day could be Disruption Day”.

Follow up note, May 6, 2020

I fear I have not been as diligent as I would like to be regarding fighting this issue. Part is due to paralysis… what can I do? And part is due to fear (I’m ashamed to say). The fear stems from a potential protracted and punitive legal battle with our neighbours who have far more legal horsepower and far more resources than I.
…It is being rented for $900 per night with a 2 day minimum and says it will sleep 12. So….every 2 days 10-12 people show up – either all between 25 and 35 – drinking, listening to music etc all day and evening or 2 or 3 families with usually 6 or so kids who scream and yell all day and the parents party after they go to bed. Impossible to enjoy almost any quiet time at our own house anymore. When I do ask people to please lower the noise level – I most often meet with rudeness.

… There is a fire pit that is not on a non-flammable surface, is too close to both an existing building and tree canopy and, I believe, is on Township property. It is used almost every night and when I have asked renters if they had called the Township to report the fire, they have had no idea what I was talking about.

XXXX was a long term rental for several years. In the fall of 2018 the tenants were evicted in order that the Owners could move into the property. Of course, instead, they turned around and began renting it on a short term basis in spring 2019. It was not a short term rental prior to May 2018 and, therefore, I believe it is illegal both under the Zoning Bylaw and the Interim (Control) Bylaw.

I have reported all of these issues several times. Other than from Randy (Randy Greenlaw, a ward councillor for Oro-Medonte), I have had no response.
My wife, young daughter and I bought waterfront property on XXXX Road in 2017, hoping to spend most of our weekends here. We were planning to rebuild our summer retirement house on this lot. Unfortunately we are reconsidering because we live next to an unlicensed hotel.

XXXX Road is an STR property. It’s a tiny cottage on a 50’ lot. We share a beach with it. In the last 30 days 60-70 renters and five-seven of their dogs came in and out of YYY. The property was consecutively rented to ~10 separate groups from 22 May to 22 June. Ontario had a ban on short-term rentals until 5 June, so 14 of those days were likely illegal.

We are subjected to the arrival of a different group of strangers every few days. It’s generally four-six adults (sometimes as many as 12), plus children and one or more dogs. The renters are not screened in advance. The cottage is rented almost every week from mid-May to October and the majority of weekends otherwise.

We endure constant noise and litter throughout the summer. We worry about privacy and safety, particularly with respect to our daughter. Why? Solely because our neighbour is allowed to run an unlicensed hotel. The situation has affected the way we should reasonably expect to enjoy our cottage. For example, my daughter will not swim when there are several adults a few metres away in the lake or on the beach – almost a daily scenario at YYY.

Other frequent examples include dogs and their feces on our beach, yelling, swearing, loud music, drug use, barking dogs, aggressive dogs, congregations in front of our beach, unattended fires, and large parties. To say we did not expect this in a small, quiet town is an understatement.
Question: Can you please provide me with a few examples of outrageous behaviour? Answer: Within the first few months of operation in the fall of 2017 we had full size ‘Greyhound’ type coaches pulling up on our street and emptying as many as 20 persons at a time into the STR property next door. These buses and subsequent parties would rage all night and included loud music, littering, etc. At least one time there was a stag party hosted in the home featuring strippers on the deck. Another time dirt bikers showed up with their bikes (which they rode through the neighbourhood) because they were led to believe the home was isolated in the county. Still another time, an entire hockey team used the house for a party which howled all night long. Question: What was the response of the Township when you first complained? Answer: Bullshit was the response. Because of suspected xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, the existing by-laws prohibiting this type of business model in our neighbourhood was allowed to exist (see correspondence). Even a simple layman like me could see that this type of business activity was not permitted as per the existing zoning.
To the Mayor and Council Members of Tay Township, Our cottage is across the road from an STR. We have ongoing concerns about who is coming and going at XXX Road. The turnover is very frequent. Often there are so many people and cars, they have to park in the right of way across from the STR. Garbage is often left out in a manner that the racoons get into it and it is not tidied up for days. We have called the police on occasions when there has been screaming and loud inappropriate language in the night, not allowing us or our guests to sleep. This was well into the night and the parties were even continuing the next day at 7:00 am. Guests were doing drugs on the front hoods of cars, and shooting fireworks at one another. With guests in this condition, it also raises the concern about campfires and how those are being monitored. Our family is grown up, but do come here to enjoy some rest and recreation here with us. Not being able to sleep through the night certainly takes away from their experience here with us. We have an elderly lady on one side of us and small children on the other. Renters as described above would most certainly be a concern to them as well. We do understand that properties should be available to rent. It seems to us that longer term rentals would be more committed to appropriate behavior and the well‐being of the area.
(A letter addressed to Member of Provincial Parliament, Simcoe North, Jill Dunlop) As a constituent in this riding, I am writing to you to express my concerns as someone affected by the problematic lack of regulations of short term rentals in Severn Township. Specifically those purchased as investment properties, not lived in by owners, and operated as “ghost motels”.

My neighbours and I have endured living next to a virtual year-long party house; cars, driving over our septic beds, trash, vomit and urine on our properties, damage to our fences, septic overflows, watching renters nearly drown in the lake, cars speeding, garbage thrown into the lake etc.

My home association has written letters, gone to Severn Township multiple times, we have spoken at town halls, and had almost one hundred signatures on a petition for action without success. We have been told there is not much Severn Township can do since they are limited by the Ontario Municipal Board and their existing legislations.”

From a letter to Mr. Corbett, an outside planning consultant for Severn Township, April 4, 2019

In 2016 I purchased and moved on to XXXX in Washago. I specifically purchased in this neighbourhood because it was residential with a home association with year round, full time residents. In May a home on this street that was vacant for many years was put up for sale and sold. From that date on the home has been used as a short term rental. I have not been able to meet with the homeowners to express my significant concerns since they are not living there. I have left a letter in their mailbox with a concern about my septic tank and bed with contact information and they have never responded. My neighbours have also been affected by this property and have made their own complaints.

Over the past years it has become increasingly frustrating living near this short term rental. I do not feel safe and I feel like the Township does not grasp the true complexity of not acting expeditiously to implement proper regulations. In fact, my previous communication while documented in Township agendas was not documented in the STR report. I am disappointed that since 2017 no one from the township ever contacted me or even responded in acknowledgement that they heard my concerns.

… It has been increasingly more common as real estate becomes more expensive in urban areas, for investors to purchase properties purely for investment purposes and utilize them as short term rentals. They have zero respect for neighbourhoods, safety or the environment. This individual operates this remotely with online listings and bookings, remote entry key access. The property has been advertised as a party house. It boasts being able to accommodate a minimum of 15 people (although most times there are more). With the cost of $800 a night split between 15 people it is cheaper than a motel or hotel.

My neighbours and I have endured partying till all hours of the night with loud music, dogs barking, people screaming, yelling, vomiting and urinating next to my house. My deck faces their deck and I no longer eat meals outside or enjoy sitting on my deck as it is stomach turning watching groups of young people funnel beer and puke. My fence has been damaged due to the large volleyball/soccer net that has been provided and when a ball goes over the fence renters either run into it, or just jump over my fence on to my property to retrieve it.

Due to the amount of cars on the next door property I have had people drive over my lawn and septic bed to enable them to manoeuvre around other cars. I have had a golf cart drive up my front lawn to ask me for a plunger when on one of multiple occasions the toilets were backing up.

I have come home to 15-20 people playing beer pong on the front lawn and waking up to find red solo cups blowing around my property. Because the owner does not reside on site, garbage is often left for some time and either begins to smell or blows around until a hired cleaner shows up to clean the house. I have heard from the cleaner hired they have charged upwards of $2000 to clean the house on occasions due to the extensive disaster left behind.

There have been multiple fires left unattended. Fireworks set off in unsafe ways directed towards the heavy trees/bush on the property or in the direction of my house. By-law officers work business hours and not on weekends so many of our complaints can not be enforced. In addition, the OPP will often disregard noise complaints as we do not have a noise by-law.

I understand that there are some positives to Short Term Rentals as outlined in the report by Mr. Corbett, however, there were far more concerns raised. Ultimately, ‘if it’s not in my back yard” many people may think it does not affect them, however, I argue it can and will affect your safety, environment and property value if your neighbourhood becomes known for short term rentals.
We live at XXXX in Oro-Medonte. As you may know, it is a residential neighbourhood with some seasonal residents. .. (Three) properties that are located near our home at ( three addresses named) are presently being used for short term rentals.

We are most familiar with how TTT is being used. Beginning in mid June 2017, the property has been used for commercial purposes, and almost continuously rented to a variety of users. While some of the users have been good neighbours, many have not. The home has been host to outdoor parties that occur throughout the week, and often run into the early morning hours. In addition to the noise disturbance, an outdoor open fire is often left unattended and unextinguished when the revelers go to bed. Fires are lit without regard to wind direction and smoke has often entered our home. Even when we close all of our windows, smoke still enters our home when the winds are from the south or southwest. We raised the problem with the smoke and fire-pit safety with the land owners, but customer behaviour has not changed.

One weekend, the home was rented by a group that hosted a 3 night stag party. More than 14 cars and trucks were parked on the driveway and on the lawn. By the end of the party, there was a distinct odour of sewage in the air. We are concerned that our well, which supplies all of our water including drinking water, may become contaminated, and we are concerned that sewage may be entering Lake Simcoe. The STR website for TTT indicates that there are 2 and ½ bathrooms and 5 bedrooms.
I was awoken tonight by loud voices at midnight again and went out to see where it was coming from. So, the house is rented for the weekend by a bunch of young kids. This place had never been used as a principal residence. It has mostly been rented out or empty and it is no longer listed on STR site, so he may be renting to past groups on his own.

I need to share with you as well, that a neighbour up the street from me, came by to check about his hydro being out. While here, we got talking about XXX and I said that I did not think it was being rented this year and he said that there was a crowd there last weekend who were so loud it kept them up until 2 am. I remember a lot of rain last weekend so I was not outside much. That particular neighbour has complained to me in past years about the noise, as it carries across the water to their property. He previously thought it was coming from here.

The other thing I was thinking about is that I doubt people will declare they are renting their properties and apply for licencing as they would then have to pay tax on that money. I believe many are getting as much as $600. nightly for 4 to 6 people, and advertise that the place sleeps 10 to 12 people, for an extra fee per person. How wonderful for us neighbours to know that instead of a family of four stable residents, we can look forward to 10 to 20 strangers each weekend.

In a second letter the same day:

…. I am hiding indoors because the noise of speeding vehicles is too much to enjoy my outdoor settings. Again, I pray for rain to keep the traffic down on the water and the road.

I am attaching the listings from the STR site that are in my direct line of sight and which deter from keeping this traditionally residential area from being the joy it used to be. I have been here paying my taxes for 36 years; the last six have been stressful.

One of the stresses for me has been having to address the renters who think that out of town means out of law enforcement. I hear gunshots every weekend and think that this can not be allowed, legally. Is it allowed in residential areas? What do I know, STRs are not allowed but that happens too. With the influx of renters comes strangers and lots of them. My sons worry that if I address the Airbnb strangers, that they will take revenge on me. That they now know where I live. That’s also why most people, particularly seniors do not get involved. This has to be some form of senior abuse. I don’t know what the stats are for increase of crime in areas like mine when the occupancy changes to temporary live in from permanent. I can not imagine the rates go down. The speeding traffic alone is an indication of that.

The property across the road from me creates an immense amount of garbage which sometimes is not picked up by the sanitation people as it is basically haphazardly thrown near containers. With no live in residents to oversee all of what renters are doing (anyone putting out fires late at night?) No one really cares. They pay rent to be catered to. As for the fires, it is overwhelming at times – the smell of smoke. Everyone who rents expects a campfire every night as part of the experience. An aroma that once was enjoyed is now too much. I have to close my windows to sleep. I pay much more than renters and have my enjoyment ruined, visually, auditoraly and emotionally.

I do not go outside my house to sit on my porches after dark knowing there are groups of young men renting behind me or across the road who I do not know. They are here drinking alcohol and getting louder as the day moves into night. I am an older woman alone, what can I do? Hide! I see these young people during the day when they are out front of my property, drinking and swimming and acting up. Can not do anything about that. I mention it as way of saying that is the daytime behavior which amplifies as night falls. Would you go outside your door? Hide! The topper of fright was the night, at midnight, when loud singing male voices woke me up even though my windows were closed. There were 4 loud male voices with limited language skills in a boat. Most lake dwellers and cottages know that sound amplifies on the water. If that wouldn’t scare you, you are not breathing. I could not sleep until they went back to their bay and then would they be on the road? I keep my property well lit so I can have some kind of advantage. BTW, I would prefer to see the stars. I have a gate which during the week days is enough to make me feel less afraid.

It is one thing to have a problem with a neighbour who you generally know. We can work that out over time and these people are not strangers. It is different and difficult to deal with a multitude of strangers every weekend. I cringe when I see a carload of people arrive at 1 a.m. Fri or Sat mornings.

Forgive me for taking up so much of your time.
“The house on XXX continues to rent and the advertising reads: 16 PLUS Guests and offers 10 beds. On average, there has been up to 3 different sets of renters per week. The advertising online has been changed from 3-day minimum to 2 days’ minimum. This causes an increase in the number of unknown individuals renting in our neighborhood. During one of the weeks this summer, 5 couples with a least 2 to 3 children each rented the house with large number of guests visiting in the evenings, throwing loud parties with music on late into the evening past 1 am.

This past Labor Day weekend there was a large group of young males that were partying for 2 days nonstop. There was a tremendous number of cars parked on the driveway and all along the street including trucks with personal watercraft vehicles. The young men renting were consuming alcohol by the dock and taking turns driving their personal watercrafts up and down the waterfront, dangerously close to swimmers and people’s docks. We were afraid to use our waterfront because we have small children and were worried about their aggressive driving. Our son had to go and ask them to use their watercrafts further out in the lake instead of erratically going up and down the shore line at increased speeds. We should not have to worry about our safety on our own waterfront properties.

… It is very alarming that this individual (the owner/operator) has come into our lovely residential neighborhood and has made a business, renting out these large properties without any consequences to the noise and disruption it has brought to all of us. This is not a commercial area, it is residential area and by-laws must be made and adhered to.”

Read about the Experience of Other Communities with STRs