Cottage owners relieved to be able to rent their properties after provincial ban lifted
LONDON, ONT. -- Ontario cottage owners who depend on summer bookings are feeling a sense of relief after the province lifted its ban on short-term rentals.
"When I got the email Thursday night, it was sure good news because you know things are going to start rolling now," says Mark Hiepleh, a cottage owner in Port Stanley, Ont.
Hiepleh spent Sunday getting his Bessie Street property ready for rent, two days after the Ontario government has lifted COVID-19 restrictions on short term rentals of cottages and other accommodations.
Minister of Economic Development Victor Fedeli made the announcement on Twitter Thursday afternoon after the province shut down non-essential short-term rental operations due to COVID-19 exactly two months ago.
“Short term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes, condominiums and B&Bs will be allowed to resume operations in Ontario starting June 5 at 12:01 a.m.,” the minister Tweeted.
Under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, short-term rentals — defined as 28 days or less — are currently only allowed to be rented to people in need of emergency housing.
The order was made on April 4, but hotels, motels and student residences were still allowed to continue operating.
I know there are a lot of people that need that income and there are a lot of people that want to rent the place,” Ontario premier Doug Ford told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
On the west side of Port Stanley, a sense of relief for cottage owners Chuck Wickens and Kara Deshaw who have two rental properties.
"It was highly concerning, but this news is going to make our summer now," says Deshaw.
The couple says they will do a deep cleaning after each weekly rental, as well as asking their guests to bring their own groceries, and personal belongings.
"All of our renters are going to be bringing in their own sheets, pillows and towels," says Deshaw.
"We are also going to have our renters sign a contract simply stating the cottage is sanitized from best of our ability and that they resume all responsibility while renting from us."
Ontario's Tourism Minister Lisa MacLeod says the sector has been hit hard by the pandemic. She's encouraging people to support local businesses and vacation within the province.
CTV spoke with the mayors of three area beach towns. None of them are against short term rentals, as long as precautions are taken.
They want to keep the number of positive cases low as Southwestern Public Health has just three ongoing cases of COVID-19.
"We want people to come down from London, Hamilton and Toronto but be we also want them to be very cautious," says Dave Mennill, warden of Elgin County, and mayor of Malahide Township.
Deshaw and Wickens understand why the province had been waiting for two months to allow the rentals, and plan to limit the size of the gathering in the cottage, and ask guests to use social distancing.
"With everyone coming from out of town we really want to make sure we are not spreading COVID-19 to the Port Stanley community," says Deshaw.
Hiepleh says his 'cleaning lady' is very good, and after guests leave should be able to have the entire 1500-square-foot cottage cleaned in a few hours.
He adds lifting the restriction is good for not only renters, but the economy of the village.
"We get people from all over Ontario and sometimes the U.S.," says Hiepleh.
"They bring a lot of money into the village, go to the shops and restaurants and pubs, so great news, waiting on news of the beach to soon be open."
The emergency operations team for Elgin County will meet Monday, and Mennill hopes the beaches could get the green light to open by next weekend.