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City approves secondary housing; Airbnb rules coming

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Journal staff

Sarnia has tweaked the rules to allow property owners to create more secondary units in their homes.

The bylaw changes allow for new and additional rental accommodation within single, semi and multiple-detached homes in all urban residential areas of the city.

Coun. Nathan Colquhoun, who pushed for a staff report on the concept last summer, said the change is addressing an urgent need for new housing.

Secondary dwelling units will generate income for homeowners, make use of empty space, and create urgently needed housing for Lambton College students, he said.

The amendments apply only to fully serviced properties and will see homeowners apply for a permit before retrofitting a home for tenants.

Meanwhile, city staff is rethinking regulations proposed for short-term rental accommodations — such as Airbnb and HomeAway — following citizen complaints.

They told council last month that a rule requiring rentals be located in the principal home of the renter was ill considered and had no public consultation.

Others proposed rules would limit short-term rentals to a maximum of four rooms or the entire home, with stays lasting less than 180 days.

Operators would also need to obtain a permit with annual renewals, like those in place for bed and breakfast operators.

The issue will return to council in February.

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