Short-Term Rentals

Short-term rental licensing

As of 2023, all short-term rentals operating in the Municipality of Bluewater must be licensed. Licensing balances the economic benefits of short-term rentals with the needs of the neighborhoods where they exist. It ensures the safety of operators, renters and neighbours so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience in Bluewater.

Short-term rentals are livable spaces that are rented out for less than 30 consecutive days. They may be operated by someone out of their own home or a separate property. Bed and breakfasts are considered short-term rentals for the purposes of the licensing by-law. However, this use must also be permitted in the Bluewater Zoning By-law.

How to apply—New applications and renewals

All new and existing short-term rentals must apply for a licence. Licences are valid for one year.

Applications are submitted online through Cloudpermit. A link to the application portal is located at the top of this page.

All applications received after September 30th, 2023 will be reviewed as new applications and are subject to location restrictions.

Submit one application form per short-term rental property. Only complete applications will be processed. Paper applications are available on request.

Applications are reviewed against the eligibility criteria set out in the licensing by-law. Applicants are then notified whether their applications have been approved or denied.

There is no need to apply by ward. Our process has changed since first introduced.

Operators involved in the 2023 application process provided valuable feedback and the Municipality has transitioned to a new, web-based system for 2024. We are proud to be the first municipality in Canada to use Cloudpermit for this purpose. Cloudpermit provides 24/7 access to your information, allows you to save your information, and allows you to upload multiple documents rather than several documents in one file.

Important information for applying

The short-term rental licensing by-law is comprehensive. Major requirements are listed here. This is not an exhaustive list. You are responsible for being aware of the details set out in the short-term rental licensing by-law.

All new and existing residential short-term rentals must apply for a licence. 

Anyone starting or continuing to operate a new short-term rental is required to obtain a municipal licence prior to renting.

Property owners must give written and signed authorization to another person to apply for a licence on their behalf. Any person or tenant applying for a licence must provide an authorization of agent form from the owner of the property with their application.

Licences are limited under two conditions:

  1. The percentage of properties on a street must not exceed 15 percent.
  2. Properties must not be adjacent to a property with a valid licence.

All applications received after September 30th, 2023, are reviewed as new applications and are subject to the location restrictions.

This is a checklist of information required for an application:

  • Application Form
  • Proof of Property Ownership
  • Names and Addresses of Parties in a Legal Partnership
  • Owner’s authorization where applicable
  • Government-issued identification
  • Proof of Liability Insurance which includes a liability limit of no less than $2 million dollars ($2,000,000.00) per occurrence for property damage and bodily injury, and identifies that a short-term rental is being operated on the premises
  • Responsible Person’s information
  • Site plan
  • Parking management plan
  • Fire safety plan
  • Proof of septic maintenance, inspection, and pump-out services within the last five (5) years
  • Current photo of the exterior front of the short-term rental building (must not be hidden by large trees, shrubs, etc.)
  • Fee

Templates are available to assist with drawing the plans. Note that the site plan and parking plan can be shown on the same drawing.

A fee of $750.00 shall be paid with each registration. Payment options are cash, cheque, debit, or online banking using customer ID.

Failure to submit the appropriate fee will result in no licence being issued.

Refunds can be requested under certain conditions.

The licensing fee is $750.

A system for licence fee refunds was adopted by Council on October 16th, 2023. By-law 100-2023 provides four tiers of refunds based on the status of the application. The by-law amends the Fees and Charges By-law. This means that the information was added to all fees charged by the municipality.

Refunds are calculated at a percentage of the current fee. No refund will be issued unless it satisfies one of the four tiers outlined in the Fees and Charges By-law. Refund requests shall be submitted in writing.

The stages of the application and corresponding refund amount are:

  1. Application submitted: no review, no by-law enforcement, application filed only. Refund Amount is 90 per cent or $675.00.
  2. Application submitted: review for completeness (high level), no by-law enforcement, application filed. Refund Amount is 70 per cent or $525.00.
  3. Application reviewed: submitted and reviewed, information missing, no licence issued, no by-law enforcement. Refund Amount is 40 per cent or $300.00.
  4. Application fully reviewed: full review, no by-law enforcement, licence not issued. Refund Amount is 20 per cent or $150.00.

A short-term rental licence expires exactly one year after the date of the issuance unless it is renewed or revoked. The expiry date is shown on the licence. Licences cannot be assigned or transferred.

Operators with a current municipal licence may continue to operate a short-term rental while a renewal application is being reviewed.

Individuals who have just purchased a short-term rental property must apply for a licence before beginning to rent.

The Manager of Development Services shall receive and process all applications for short-term rental licences and for renewals. The Manager may request comments from other departments or agencies in respect of the short-term rental. The Manager may require an inspection of the short-term rental prior to deciding on the application. Terms and conditions may be imposed on short-term rental licences in accordance with this by-law and as necessary to give effect to the by-law.

Operators may appeal a refusal, revocation, or suspension of a licence to Council. The licensing by-law sets out the terms of the appeal. Requests for appeal shall be made in writing to the Manager, setting out the reasons for the appeal and shall be accompanied by the appeal fee. The appeal must be made within fourteen (14) days after service of the written notice of the Manager’s decision. Council shall meet within 30 days after receiving the application for appeal.

The Municipality collected information through your short-term rental licence application. If this information changes, you are required to inform the Municipality as soon as possible. To start a change, access your application or licence in Cloudpermit. If you do not currently have an account in Cloudpermit, you will need to create one.

Make a change to a mailing address or responsible person in Parties to the Application. Make a change in any legal document by uploading the new document.

If you have sold your property and are no longer operating as a short-term rental, please notify the Municipality within 10 days.

These by-laws regulate short-term rentals and the licensing process. They are convenience copies only and should not be relied upon as the official document. To request a copy of the signed version of the by-law, please contact the municipal office.

Frequently asked questions

Additional information about short-term rentals for operators and renters can be found here.

Several people may be involved with rentals on your property; however, the Property Owner is ultimately responsible.

The Owner shall assign and identify a Responsible Person for managing and addressing issues in absence of the owner. The Responsible Person must be located within 30 minutes of the rental property and be available for emergency calls.

The Owner may also authorize another person to apply for a licence on their behalf. Permission must be written using the form provided by the Municipality.

Renters shall adhere to a written code of conduct. A form is provided by the Municipality.

The number of renters is based on the number of bedrooms plus two. A bedroom means a room or area used, designed, equipped, or intended for sleeping and as defined by the Ontario Building Code. The maximum permitted occupancy shall not exceed two (2) persons per bedroom per short-term rental at any given time. Maximum two additional occupants or renters are permitted above the bedroom occupant load set in accordance with the by-law, unless the septic design or parking management plan limits the number of occupants/bedrooms then maximum occupancy will be based on respective design.

For example, a three-bedroom dwelling has a permitted occupant load of eight (8) persons.

Visitors are permitted, provided the maximum occupant load is not exceeded on the property.

Owners are required to do a visual inspection of their septic system to ensure the system is in good working order and submit a record of the pump out. This includes a receipt or letter.

The Ontario Building Code includes the size requirements for onsite sewage (septic) systems. The Code states that for residential dwellings, the size of a sewage system is based on the number of bedrooms, finished area of the dwelling and the number of plumbing fixtures. Anyone concerned that a sewage system is not working properly can contact the municipal office and the complaint will be investigated. Every sewage system requires regular maintenance to ensure it is operating safely and efficiently.

No, they do not. A hand-drawn map or diagram is acceptable. Note that the site plan and parking plan can be shown on the same drawing. Templates are available. Drawings must be legible, detailed and show all structures, parking area, septic system, street, etc.

The Property Owner must hold liability insurance of not less than $2 million dollars per occurrence for property damage and bodily injury.

The Municipality issues a licence. The licence is valid for one year from the date of issuance. The Property Owner is responsible for adhering to the rules set out by the by-law. Demerits are handed out for failure to comply. Total demerits may mean that the licence will be suspended or revoked.

Without prejudice, demerit points may be assessed against a short-term rental under specific conditions. Demerit points shall remain in place for two years from the date they were assessed. A short-term rental licence may be suspended for not longer than six months if the total demerit points is at least seven (7). A licence may be revoked if the total demerit points is at least fifteen (15). The Municipality will notify the owner of a suspension or revocation of a short-term rental licence. A full explanation of the demerit point system can be found in the by-law.

For sellers

Licences cannot be transferred with the sale of a property. Sale of licensed property renders the current licence invalid. 

The licensee shall notify the Manager of Development Services within ten (10) days of any changes. Changes to provide to the Manager of Development Services include:

  • Ownership changes (property or business)
  • Address changes
  • Liability insurance policy changes
  • Changes to a plan (site, parking, fire)

The purchaser cannot assume that notification will be provided by another department within the Municipality of Bluewater.

For purchasers

If you have purchased a property that was previously licensed as a short-term rental and you plan to operate as one, you will need to submit a new licence application, supporting documentation and fee.

The new property owner shall not operate a short-term rental business during the application review period. Applications are reviewed for compliance with the short-term rental licensing by-law. Potential decisions are to refuse an application or grant a licence. Applicants receive the decision in writing. There is no guarantee that a licence will be granted.

The Municipality encourages continued participation and feedback from all stakeholders. Complaints can be submitted about a perceived infraction of a local municipal by-law using the Report A Concern form located at the top of all website pages. The Development Services Department in charge of short-term rental licensing works closely with by-law enforcement officers.

You may also submit a written request for information.

Municipal law enforcement officers enforce municipal by-laws. When a complaint is received, it is investigated to determine if there has been a by-law violation. The appropriate action will then be taken to resolve the matter. At any time, an officer may enter onto land for the purpose of carrying out an inspection to determine whether by-laws are being obeyed.

Council discussed additional regulations and weighed the benefits and drawbacks of licensing short term rentals. Council determined that a strict enforcement policy is the best solution at this time for enforceable by-laws (e.g. noise, fire, parking).

The zoning by-law does not prohibit the use of a dwelling unit (e.g. entire cottage or home) for any length of time (e.g. short term or long term) to be rented. However, if a room rental is provided, providing or selling meals and/or drink is strictly prohibited as this would be considered a bed and breakfast establishment. Bed and breakfasts are only permitted on properties with specific zoning that permits this use.

The zoning by-law can be found on our by-laws page.

Council started to discuss short-term rentals in the municipality in 2020. The issues discussed locally were being experienced by municipalities across Ontario.

In 2021, Bluewater began educating short-term rental operators and visitors about important by-laws that visitors and residents must follow.

In 2022 and 2023, staff and Council worked together to consult with residents, operators, and visitors for the purpose of licensing short-term rentals. Public consultation occurred in the form of an online survey, public meetings, and personal conversations.

A 90-day public survey in the summer of 2022 received over 800 responses. Dozens more emails and personal conversations were received from stakeholders since the end of the survey.

Three special Council meetings were held to receive additional public and Council feedback. A presentation can be viewed in the October 12th, 2022, Council agenda package.

Council reports include:

The Municipality of Bluewater is building one community. We value our heritage, respect our shared environment, and celebrate our culture. Together, we will grow responsibly.

The short-term rental licensing by-law was crafted with considerable guidance from residents, operators, Council, and other municipalities. It was designed to help protect the safety of operators, renters, and neighbours so that everyone may have an enjoyable experience in Bluewater.

Operators protect their neighbours and renters by submitting plans and agreements to the municipality for approval. For example, the fire plan shows renters where fire exits and extinguishers are located and more. The parking plan shows neighbours how the operator will prevent vehicles from parking on the road allowance or their front lawn.

Renters protect operators and neighbours by acknowledging their responsibility to keep the unit clean and gatherings reasonable. Lakeshore cottages and rural residences (not located in a village) are serviced by an on-site sewage system. Learn how to do your part to protect the natural environment. From time to time, the municipality or county may restrict outdoor watering or fires. Visit the main page on the website to see if any such restrictions are in place or to find other information such as garbage and recycling pick up schedules.

Be courteous and respectful of your neighbours’ concerns. Work together to resolve them. Share concerns with the rental operator or designated responsible person. If the concerns are not resolved and they are regulated by a municipal by-law, report a concern online to reach by-law enforcement.

Visit our By-laws page to see what local by-laws you should be familiar with when visiting.

For questions or more information, contact the Administrative Assistant for Development Services or the Manager of Development Services.

Updates related to short-term rental licensing are shared in the news section of our website and through our social media pages. Make sure to check back often.

Municipality of Bluewater
14 Mill Avenue
N0M 2T0
Phone: 519-236-4351
or 1-877-236-4351
Fax: 519-236-4329
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