Can I rent out my home?
If you own a tourist home, you can rent it out. But, if your property is not designated by the Town of Canmore as a tourist home – you can’t rent it out as a short-term stay. Read more below to understand the difference.
What is a tourist home?
A tourist home is any dwelling that can be used as a permanent residence or for short-term stays. The formal definition of a tourist home is: “a dwelling unit operated as a temporary place to stay, with or without compensation, and includes all vacation rentals of a dwelling unit.”
The characteristics that distinguish a tourist home from a dwelling unit used as a residence may include any of the following:
- the intent of the occupant to stay for short-term vacation purposes rather than use the property as a residence; and/or
- the commercial nature of a tourist home; and/or
- the management or advertising of the dwelling unit as a tourist home or “vacation rental,” on website such as Airbnb or VRBO; and/or
- the use of a system of reservations, deposits, confirmations, credit cards, or other forms of electronic payment.
Where are tourist homes allowed?
Tourist homes are allowed in many commercial and mixed-use areas, such as along Bow Valley Trail and Railway Avenue. The Town’s Land Use Bylaw identifies where tourist homes may or may not be allowed to operate, and this map shows those locations: pdf Tourist Home Districts 2017 (423 KB)
In Canmore, an owner of a tourist home may use it for either vacation rentals (if they have a development permit to operate it as a tourist home) or as a permanent residence. If it is used as for vacation rentals, the owner pays a higher property tax (approximately triple the residential rate).
Where are tourist homes NOT allowed?
Tourist homes are currently prohibited in the vast majority of residential districts in Canmore. Tourist homes also have an impact on the availability and affordability of housing for residents, as well as the character of the neighbourhood.
Can I rent out my home for an evening, a weekend, a week, or a few weeks at a time?
How can I learn more about how specific properties are zoned?
Use the Town of Canmore’s property information viewer map to check land use zones. Using the map, click on a location and the property information will appear. Under the annual assessment, look at the Roll Number – Code. The two numbers and possibly a letter after the “-” will indicate the how the property is assessed. To learn more about what the numbers and letters mean, click on the “code” to see if the property is assessed as residential, a tourist home, or commercial.
What if I’m not collecting money, but just letting people stay for free?
Regardless of whether there is compensation or not, if you are using your home for short-term stays, it is considered a tourist home.
What if I only rent it out once or twice a year and give a month's lease?
Some people have considered this a loophole in the regulations, because it is legal to rent your home for a month. However, if you write a contract suggesting the lease is for a month as cover for a short-term rental - that is a deliberate deception, and it’s just wrong.
What if I only rent out a room, and not the whole house?
Regardless of whether you're renting your whole house, or just a room in it, there are rules that apply for short-term tourist rentals. For example, bed & breakfasts (which usually just rent a room) go through an approval process with the Town. Tourist homes also need approval from the Town. Renting a room on a vacation website requires a Bed and Breakfast license and it needs to meet the requirements set out in the Bylaws.
What do I need if I want to use my Canmore property as a tourist home?
Tourist homes require a development permit and need a valid business license. There may be other requirements, depending on your specific property. These other requirements are outside of the jurisdiction of the Town of Canmore, but are something you should take into consideration:
- Collecting and remitting the Alberta Hotel Tax
- Collecting and remitting GST
- Inspection and cleaning of hot tubs (where applicable) – contact the Calgary Health Region – Public Health Inspector at 403.678.5656
If you have a complaint about legal tourist home or other visitor accommodation, the contact information for bylaw services is here.
What happens to people who operate a tourist home without a permit?
The Town of Canmore investigates complaints of illegal tourist homes. If a property is found to be operating as an illegal tourist home, a Cease Use Order may be issued. The Town can also issue fines of $2,500 for the first offence and $5,000 for subsequent offences. The act of advertising the property as a vacation rental on websites such as Airbnb or VRBO can result in enforcement action by the Town.
Why are taxes higher for tourist homes?
A tourist home is a very flexible type of use where the property can be rented out short-term as a quasi-commercial use, or lived in permanently as a residence. The lower residential tax rate is reserved for owner-occupied properties where the owners have declared the property as their primary residence and that it will not be rented as a vacation property.
What if I live in my property for part of the year, and rent it out when I’m not using it?
You will still require a tourist home permit. There are no restrictions on personal use once a tourist home permit is in place.
Why can’t I rent out my home if my neighbours don’t mind?
While your neighbours may not mind the occasional guest, there are other people to consider:
- Owners of legally operated tourist homes, hotels, bed & breakfast and inn operations. An illegal tourist home has lower taxes and expenses, which creates an unfair advantage to other business owners in our community.
- Canmore Taxpayers. Tourist homes that do not pay their share of the property taxes leave it to residential owners to make up the difference.
- Your guests, and our visitors. Visitors to Canmore will not be aware of the laws in our area. When they pay for their vacation, they are expecting that the operator is acting in their best interest. If you accept a future reservation, and are then issued a Cease Use Order, you leave the guest without a place to stay.
Should short-term rentals be allowed in Canmore neighborhoods? Click here to tell us what you think.