(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.