Short Term Rentals

On April 9, 2024, Council approved and passed a by-law instituting a licensing system for short term rental operations in Highlands East. This by-law, (2024-32 Short-Term Rental Licensing By-law) will come into force and effect on October 1, 2024. 

Read the full By-law on CivicWeb

Why the Short Term Rental By-law?

All four of the local municipalities worked together with the County of Haliburton to draft a short term rental by-law to license short term rental accommodations.

Some of the benefits of a licensing program include:

  • Ensuring that short term rentals are safe for the travelling public by requiring that appropriate building, septic, parking, and fire safety standards are maintained.
  • Providing operators with a set of standard requirements to ensure that their accommodation is fit for rental and preventing substandard rental operations from being advertised.
  • Protecting watersheds by ensuring that septic systems are up to code and instituting occupancy limits.
  • Providing our communities with numerous mechanisms to address and resolve issues surrounding the use of properties for short term rentals.

Determining if you need a licence

Who needs a licence?

Anyone who is renting all or part of their dwelling for a period of less than 28 days must be licensed.

Who doesn’t need a licence?

The licensing by-law does not apply to bed and breakfast operators, those operating tourist resorts, trailer parks, or campgrounds. The licensing by-law also does not apply for landlords who have long term rentals.

Unsure if the by-law applies to you? Please contact Kimberley Roberts, Junior-Planner to clarify.

Who cannot be licensed?

You may not operate a short term rental if:

  • You are a tenant (only property owners may license a short term rental);
  • Your property is designated as community housing;
  • Your operation is not within a habitable room (as defined by the bylaw);
  • Your operation is in a building or dwelling unit that is illegal, unlawful, or not compliant with Ontario Building Code;
  • Your operation is within a non-building or structure such as a vehicle, camper, tent, trailer, etc.;
  • Your operation is within a marine vessel;
  • Your building or structure is located on the Municipality’s shoreline road allowance and you have not been granted an encroachment agreement;
  • Your operation is located within a secondary or additional dwelling unit in a waterfront, resource based recreational, or urban residential area;
  • Your operation is located within any building or structure prohibited by this by-law.

Wondering if the above applies to you? Please contact Kimberley Roberts, Junior-Planner to clarify.

Getting licensed

Licences will be issued through Granicus, who provide an online platform that many Canadian municipalities use for short term rental licensing and compliance monitoring.

The Granicus platform will be brought online in the coming months. Meanwhile, staff are prepared to manually process applications and we will announce when applications will be open.

Required Information for Applications

The following will be required as part of a complete application for licence:

  • A completed application, signed by all the legal property owners (if the legal owner is a corporation, the application must be signed by an individual with the authority to bind the corporation).
  • Authorization for a responsible person if the responsible person is not the legal property owner.
  • A certificate of insurance which includes a liability limit of no less than two million dollars ($2,000,000.00) per occurrence for property damage or bodily injury. This insurance policy must identify that a Short-Term Rental Accommodation is being operated on the Premises. The insurance coverage required herein shall be endorsed to the effect that the Municipality shall be given at least ten (10) days’ notice in writing of any cancellation or material variation to the policy.
  • A site plan, drawn to scale and fully dimensioned of the Short Term Rental premises that includes the following:
    1. The location and dimensions of the required parking spaces and surfacing of the parking areas. One Parking Space is required for every Guest Room or Bedroom.
    2. Location of all buildings or structures on the land including decks, patios and docks;
    3. Septic and well locations if applicable; and
    4. Location of municipally owned shore road allowance or any other publicly owned lands, easements, and rights of way if applicable.
  • A Plan for Fire Safety;
  • A photograph of the front and rear of the short term rental premises (including guest cabins, if applicable);
  • Proof of septic maintenance: Sewage System Installation Report / Use Permit issued by the Health Unit or Municipality, along with receipt of the most recent septic tank pump out; or, Report from a qualified designer or engineer.
  • Proof of ownership (this may be a deed or a parcel register);
  • A sworn declaration confirming that:
    1. The Short-Term Rental is not subject to an order made pursuant to the Building Code Act, 1992, and any regulation made under it, including the Building Code;
    2. The Short-Term Rental contains functioning smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, and accessible exits;
    3. The Short-Term Rental will comply with the parking provisions of this By-law and the parking capacity as illustrated on the site plan submitted with their application;
    4. The Short-Term Rental has an adequate supply of potable water to support its use;
    5. The Owner confirms they will require each Licencee to abide by the Licencee Code of Conduct;
    6. The Owner confirms they will require each Renter to abide by the Renter’s Code of Conduct;
    7. The Owner confirms the accuracy, truthfulness, and completeness of the information submitted; and,
    8. The Owner confirms that they will maintain liability insurance as required through this By-law while the Short-Term Rental is being operated as a Short-Term Rental.

Obligations of the Licencee

  • The licencee must ensure that their premises and rentals comply with the maximum occupancy permitted by their licence;
  • The licencee must ensure that the number of parked vehicles does not exceed the number permitted by their licence;
  • Parking spaces must remain free of snow, debris or anything else that would prevent their use as per the site plan submitted;
  • The licencee must ensure that the appropriate information is posted at their premises;
  • The licencee must ensure that a class ABC is kept and maintained in good working order in any cooking areas within the premises;
  • The licencee must ensure that they or their responsible person can respond to an emergency call within sixty minutes (1 hour) at any time that the premises is rented;
  • The licencee must ensure that they or their responsible person will attend the short term rental premises within twenty-four (24) hours of an emergency call;
  • Ensure that any marketing materials (print or online – including social media) include the licence number;
  • Ensure that any contracts, invoices, or receipts include the licence number;
  • Ensure that a short term rental sign is posted near the 911 address for the property when the rental is being rented.
  • Ensure that if any information for the licence is to change, notice is given to the Municipality within ten (10) days of updating that information.

Shoreline Road Allowances

Short term rental premises must be located on the licensee's own property.

On many lakes and rivers in Highlands East, there are sixty-six foot wide shoreline road allowances. Some of these road allowances are entirely under water, some are entirely on dry land, and some are partially submerged.

To learn more about shoreline road allowances, please visit our Environment and Shorelines page for more information.

Section 2.2 h) of the Short Term Rental By-law states the following:

No Person shall market, operate, provide, or allow the Use of a Short-Term Rental in:

h. any Building or Structure that is located wholly or partially on a municipally owned shore road allowance or any other publicly owned lands of the municipality, Province of Ontario or Government of Canada, unless permission has been provided.

i. Where any Building or Structure, in part or in whole, is located on municipally owned land, the property owner of the short-term rental shall, in the case of an abutting shoreline road allowance, make an application to purchase said road allowance. A short-term encroachment agreement may be permitted in the interim period prior to the conveyance of the shore road allowance in accordance with the Municipality’s Use of Municipal Land Policy.

ii. Where the Structure located on the municipally owned shore road allowance directly abutting the property is only a floating or pole dock, the registered property owner shall enter into an encroachment agreement in accordance with the Municipality’s Use of Municipal Land Policy.

iii. Where the Building or Structure is located across a municipally maintained road from the property subject to the licence, the property owner shall enter into an encroachment agreement in accordance with the Municipality’s Use of Municipal Land Policy.

iv. A licence for short-term rental will not be granted until all appropriate encroachment agreements and other required agreements are in place.

This means that if your cottage, guest cabin, deck, or other permanent amenity space like a gazebo is located on the shoreline road allowance, an application to purchase the shoreline road allowance will be a requirement of your licence.

As shoreline purchases can take up to two years to complete, Council has authorized staff to administer an encroachment agreement for up to three years while the purchase is being completed.

Where your only encroachment is a floating or pole dock (ie, a non-permanent or fixed dock), you will be required to enter into an encroachment agreement for the duration of your licence period and will be required to provide liability insurance to protect the Municipality from claims stemming from the use of the shoreline road allowance.

Where your dock or amenity space is located across a municipally owned roadway, you must apply for and be granted an encroachment agreement by Council before your licence is issued.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long is the Licencing Period?

- A licence period is 1 year, or until the property is sold or transferred to a new owner. In that situation, a new licence is required.
- Licencees in good standing may renew their licences; applications to renew should be submitted together with the fee payable ninety (90) days before the licence expires to ensure there is no lapse in the licencing period.

What does a licence cost?

The yearly fee for the licence is $500 in 2024. 

For this and other costs related to the Short Term Rental By-law, please visit our Fees page.

What must be posted in a licensed rental?

The following must be posted in a prominent area of the rental:

  • A copy of the licence;
  • The address of the premises, and the telephone number, if applicable;
  • The type of access to the premises;
  • If the access is not via a year round publicly maintained road, the following emergency services statement:
    “Due to this Short-Term Rental Premises not being accessible by a year-round maintained public road, emergency response times may be delayed to this location.”
  • The following statement must be posted:
    “In the event of fire, serious accident or medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and provide the 9-1-1 address of this property, which is (insert address here).”
  • The name and contact information of the Licencee.
  • The name and contact information of the Responsible Person for Emergency and By-law concerns.
  • Inspection results as per Section 6.3 of the By-law.
  • Copy of the Site Plan associated with the Licence, with parking plan and waste storage details.
  • A copy of the Renter’s and Licencee Code of Conduct.
  • A copy of the current Noise By-law.
  • The current municipal burning restrictions in force at the time of rental period.

A sign will be required to be posted by the 911 number at the driveway.

How do I know if I need to buy my shoreline road allowance or get an encroachment agreement?

It is important for licencees to be aware of their property boundaries. The most straightforward means by which to confirm whether you have a shoreline road allowance to deal with is to have an updated survey completed by a qualified Ontario Land Surveyor.

If you make an application to licence a short term rental and it appears that any structures or buildings may be potentially located on the shoreline road allowance, staff will require the following prior to issuing a licence:

  • An updated plan of survey or letter from an Ontario Land Surveyor confirming that there is no dry land shoreline road allowance abutting the property subject to the licence.
  • A completed application to close and purchase the shoreline road allowance together with the requisite fee and an executed encroachment agreement for the interim period before the road allowance is closed and conveyed.
  • Where only a dock is located on the shoreline, an executed encroachment agreement for the life of the licence.

Unsure if your shoreline road allowance is owned? Do you have a survey but are not sure if it satisfies requirements? Please feel free to reach out to staff and we would be pleased to review.

Who is responsible for the short term rental?

Short term rental licences are issued to the legal property owner. Any demerits, administrative penalties, fines, or orders will be issued to the legal property owner.

Many property owners engage third party management companies or agents to assist in the advertising, vetting, and rental of their properties. They delegate the authority for the management and maintenance of their properties to these companies or individuals.

In the short term rental by-law, these third parties are called Responsible Persons. Care should be given in appointing a responsible person, as ultimately, all matters pertaining to the property are the responsibility of the property owner, should the responsible person fail to fulfill their obligations.

Can I advertise my rental before my licence is issued?

After October 1, 2024, any property advertised for short term rental in any media (newspaper, online, etc.) must be licensed and the licence number must be included in the advertisement. 

How do I determine my occupancy? 

  • Guest cabins shall not be rented separately from the principal dwelling and sleeping facilities in guest cabins count as bedrooms;
  • Occupancy is set at two people per bedroom and is subject to septic capacity;
  • One parking space must be provided for each bedroom;
  • Rooms that are not licensed as bedrooms within the operator’s licence shall not be utilized as sleeping quarters.


A three bedroom cottage with a one bedroom guest cabin will have a total occupancy of eight people and will require a minimum of four parking spots. The septic system must be rated for four bedrooms and the appropriate number of fixtures located within the dwelling and guest cabin.