City Addresses Proposed Short-Term Rental Bylaw Data-Collection Questions

Published on: 2020/02/10 - in News

In response to public speculation, the City of Kingston’s Planning Department is clarifying how it will collect data on the proposed Short-term Rental Licensing Bylaw.

“There have been a lot of rumours, so we wanted to clarify and be transparent about the actual process being proposed,” said Paige Agnew, Commissioner, Community Services. “Basically, the City would contract a company to scan online ads and listings to identify the addresses of short-term rental properties to be licensed.”

If the Administrative Policies Committee approves the updated version of the bylaw at its meeting this week, it will go before Council at its first meeting in March. This Thursday’s (Feb. 13) meeting will take place beginning at 5:30pm in Council Chambers at City Hall, 216 Ontario Street.

According to a release:

The proposed bylaw suggests the City gather information on where short-term rentals are being offered in Kingston using Host Compliance, a contracted service provider. If the bylaw is approved, Host Compliance will undergo an assessment by the City ahead of any contract being finalized.

The City states that Host Compliance operates as follows:

  • Host Compliance only looks at publicly-available data – of the kind found on AirBnB and other sites aimed at advertising available short-term rentals – to determine the location of each short-term rental.
  • Host Compliance is focused on finding the address of the listing vs. the person behind the listing.
  • Host Compliance narrows down possible addresses using a computer algorithm. This narrows down the number of possible matches to a few possible addresses, which are provided to address identification analysts who look at publicly available information to match a listing to a specific street address and/or both a specific street address and a specific unit number.
  • Host Compliance does not physically visit any properties and does not use any proprietary surveillance tools to augment the data that can be found online.
  • Host Compliance never reaches out to hosts and never makes fake bookings.
  • Host Compliance hosts data on System and Organizational Controls 2 (SOC 2) compliant servers located in Canada. This is the highest standard of privacy security available on the market. This data is subject to standard data retention policies. The data they would collect on behalf of the City of Kingston would be stored on secure servers, encrypted and only made available to authorized City personnel via secure web connections.
  • Host Compliance is compliant with Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), and has specifically reviewed the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) to confirm that they are compliant.

This data will be collected for and provided to the City to be used solely for enforcing the short-term rental bylaw, once finalized and passed. The City points out that many cities in Canada and the United States currently use this platform to assist with the implementation of short-term rental licensing.

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