by Paul Ambler
on Thursday, November 21st, 2019 at 11:17am.
After two years on hold, new rules for short term rentals have been approved in Toronto. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal said in a ruling released Monday that it has dismissed an appeal by several residents who objected to the rules that put limits on how people can rent out their properties. The city put the rules in place in part over concerns that short-term rentals like Airbnb were reducing the rental stock as the city deals with a housing crisis. In Toronto, it’s estimated that there are 21,000 Air BNB listings. They produce $214 million a year in short-term rental revenue and Toronto is Canada's largest market.
Under the new zoning bylaw amendments, short-term rentals will only be allowed in principal residences, which means landlords will not be able to list secondary suites like basement apartments. Homeowners or tenants can rent up to three bedrooms year-round on a short-term basis – as defined as less than 28 days – or an entire house or apartment for up to 180 nights a year. The new rules would also restrict “ghost hotels,” which are Airbnbs operated by hosts who have more than two listings. According to a report released by Fairbnb in January, the highest concentration of ghost hotels are in the downtown waterfront communities and nearly 90 per cent of those are condo units.
As the city of Toronto struggles to find a fair solution, there is no doubt that Air BNB has taken many fair market rentals away from the market that is in need of housing. Short-term rental listings have tripled since 2015, with entire-home listings accounting for two-thirds of listings. The growth of Air BNB in some communities has changed neighbourhoods and increased the "ghost" phenomenon which has frustrated many local residents where this takes place. Crime has been another concern with the short term rentals especially in cases where they are used as "party houses".
Earlier this month Air BNB banned the use of its rentals as Party Homes which have also have made their way into the newspapers in Toronto with one resulting in a shooting that left a teenaged boy dead at a grad party. This has been a re-occurring issue in the U.S as well. CEO Brian Chesky tweeted that Airbnb will immediately expand screening of high-risk reservations. Chesky also said they will initiate a “‘party house’ rapid response team” with the potential to remove anyone from the property who breaks the regulations.
“We want owners to take more responsibility over the issues that arise from short-term rentals,” says councillor Ana Bailão, who has advocated for the regulations. “Some of these Airbnbs are becoming party central.