The Government of Ontario has implemented regulatory changes that will formally exempt REALTORS® in Ontario from having to register as travel agents under the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) to transact short-term rentals.
This regulatory burden was first brought to our attention by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® and The Lakelands Association of REALTORS® whose members were receiving compliance letters from TICO asking them to register as travel agents.
Under the Travel Industry Act, 2002 (TIA), the sale of travel services, including “accommodations for travelers, tourist, or sightseers”, required the transaction of a short-term rental to be conducted through a TICO registered travel retailer.
In 2018, TICO began a registration campaign targeting REALTORS® transacting short-term rentals, forcing many OREA Members to be hit with double-registration fees and a significant piece of administrative red tape.
OREA quickly fought against TICO’s campaign and advocated that the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) make the necessary regulatory changes under TIA to formally exempt REALTORS® from registering with TICO.
In 2019, TICO and the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) created a short-term solution while official regulatory changes were being made. The agreement between TICO and RECO affirmed the right of REALTORS® to transact short-term rental properties and TICO agreed to stop their registration campaign.
Moving forward, OREA continued to work with former Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Bill Walker and current Minister, Lisa Thompson to formally address the issue through regulatory change.
As a result of these efforts, as of today, the regulations under TIA now formally exempt registrants trading short-term rentals from registering as travel agents.
It should be noted that the exemption only applies to registrants who are trading in short-term rentals on behalf of their brokerage. Should a registrant be trading in short-term rentals outside of their brokerage, they will not qualify for the exemption and will need to register with TICO.
This new change will save Members thousands of dollars in double registration fees and reduce their red tape burden.
Thank you to the leaders at the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® and The Lakelands Association of REALTORS® for their support on this issue.
This is an example of what a united and strong REALTOR® voice can do to protect its members from unnecessary red tape.
Matthew Thornton Vice President, Public Affairs & Communications