Kawartha Lakes Short-Term Rental By-Laws

The Municipality of Kawartha Lakes has recently approved a draft of the by-law in the hopes of more effectively monitoring and enforcing issues associated with short-term rentals through a licensing approach. While the by-law has not yet officially gone into place, the Kawartha Lakes municipality is tentatively planning to do a soft launch of the new Kawartha Lakes short-term rental by-laws in the summer of 2023 and fully rolling it out closer to the end of the year. In this post, we will walk through the proposed requirements and also discuss the impacts this may have on homeowners.

Cottage rentals in Kawartha Lakes

Short-Term Rental By-Laws Explained: Kawartha Lakes

Looking for the quick and dirty takeaways of the by-law? Look no further, here’s what you need to know. 

Please note, the below is not the entirety of the implications of the newly proposed by-laws but instead the most important features to know. Short-term accommodation by-laws can be complex and differ significantly between different municipalities in Ontario’s Cottage Country. By working with an experienced cottage rental management agency like ourselves, we can help you better understand the short-term accommodation by-law requirements, offer discounts on certain requirements (like short-term rental insurance) and reduce the likelihood of any issues during rentals through increase guest screening and a focus on responsible renting. 

Short-Term Rental By-Law for Kawartha Lakes – Licensing Requirements & Fees

  • Kawartha Lakes Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement: All short-term rental accommodations (any property renting for less than 28 days) are required to apply for a license from the Kawartha Lakes municipality to operate.
  • Kawartha Lakes Licensing Fee: The annual licensing fee depends on whether the homeowner lives at the property during the rental ($300 annual licensing fee) or the property is “un-hosted”, meaning the homeowner does not live there during the rental ($1,200 annual licensing fee).  
  • Site Requirements: Hosts must meet a number of site requirements, including minimum parking requirements, floor plans, and fire safety standards.
  • Annual Inspections: Hosts will be required to have yearly inspections of their property, including licensing, WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) inspections, and HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) inspections.

Short-Term Rental By-Law for Kawartha Lakes – Occupancy Limits & Other

  • Occupancy Limit: The by-law looks to enforce concerns about overcrowding by limiting occupancy to 2 guests per bedroom. This can have a large impact on many cottages that have a bunkie that is not registered as a bedroom, bunk-beds that can sleep 3 or more children in one bedroom and those that use living space, like couches, to sleep guests. This may lead to Kawartha Lakes cottage rentals being less affordable for larger families or groups as they may be forced to move towards larger cottages rather than a more suitable, and affordable, cottage with a bunkie and / or bunk beds, as an example. To confirm this, the host must provide a detailed site drawing of the property as part of the license application.
  • Insurance Requirements: Hosts must maintain liability insurance of at least $2 million, and proof of insurance must be provided to the city. At CottageLINK Rental Management we can provide our homeowners with discounted rates on short-term rental insurance as providers appreciate, and reward, the added level of safety that comes with using a professional rental management company. 
  • Required Contact Person: Homeowners must provide the name and contact information of a person who can respond to complaints within 30 to 60 minutes. At CottageLINK Rental Management, we offer 24/7 service so if there is a neighbour complaint or a guest issue we can respond quickly on our homeowners’ behalf. 
  • Renters and Owners Acknowledgement: Homeowners must provide a written acknowledgement to renters that they are aware of the by-laws governing the operation of short-term rentals in Kawartha Lakes.

Overview of Why Kawartha Lakes Implemented a Short-Term Rental By-Law

More and more homeowners are turning to short-term cottage rentals in Ontario to help cover rising maintenance costs given the high inflation, property taxes, better afford upgrades / renovations to their cottages. In addition, short-term rentals provide a path for many homeowners to afford purchasing a second home, like a cottage. Most homeowners do not purchase a cottage as an investment property and instead look to rent out a handful of weeks each year when it would otherwise go unused. 

Kawartha Lakes waterfront cottage rental with hot tub

As the number of short-term rentals has grown, so have concerns from neighbors, local governments, and advocacy groups. Oftentimes, a lack of rental experience, proper guest screening and guest education about cottage living, are the culprits and leads to the acts of a few negatively impacting all short-term vacation rental homeowners. The actions of a few often lead to municipalities having to regulate all short-term rental owners through licensing, monitoring and enforcement. 

A survey conducted by the Kawartha Lakes municipality found that noise complaints were the most common issue associated with short-term rentals. Other concerns include traffic, parking, and overcrowding. However, it’s important to also consider that short-term rentals bring significant economic benefits to the area and most of these towns rely on tourism to support local businesses and individuals. As an example, Muskoka has a total population of ~150,000 (split 40/60 between year-round and seasonal) yet welcomes over 3 million visitors annually, most of which stay at alternative accommodations like vacation rentals given the scarcity of other lodging options.  

In response to these concerns relating to short-term rentals, the Kawartha Lakes municipality has introduced new by-laws that require short-term rental hosts to obtain a license and limit occupancy to two people per bedroom. Hosted short-term rental licenses cost $300 per year, while un-hosted licenses cost $1,200 per year, which is above that of other municipalities. One concern is that a higher licensing fee could potentially lead to negative impacts – it may make it uneconomical for owners who simply rent their cottage a couple weeks a year to help cover bills and, in some cases, it may do the opposite and lead to people renting more frequently to help cover these added costs.

Kawartha Lakes short-term rental bylaw

Another concern for short-term rental hosts in Kawartha Lakes is the occupancy limit of two people per bedroom. While this rule is meant to prevent overcrowding, a simple limit per bedroom is not always the solution. For example, what about children where there may be a bedroom with bunk beds that sleeps 3 or 4? What about cottages that have a bunkie that can no longer be used due to the occupancy limits? This rule can be overly burdensome for some homeowners.


In conclusion, while there are valid concerns with short-term rentals, it’s important to recognize the benefits they provide to both homeowners and the local economy. By working together and implementing responsible policies and practices, we can ensure that everyone can benefit from this growing industry.

Looking to Rent your Cottage in Ontario? CottageLINK Rental Management has You Covered

At CottageLINK Rental Management, we understand the challenges that come with owning a vacation rental property. That’s why we offer a variety of services to help homeowners manage their properties responsibly, including increased guest screening to try and avoid bad guests that may negatively impact neighbours or the community. We can also help homeowners navigate the licensing process, which can be complicated and overwhelming. Our goal is to make the process easier to follow so that homeowners can continue to enjoy the benefits of short-term rentals without the added stress. If you would like to learn more or speak with a member of our team about our cottage rental management services – please reach out to us! You can do so by emailing us at info@clrm.ca or learn more by requesting our cottage rental management package.

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