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Toronto proposes new rules for Airbnb-style rentals

The Mayor of Toronto recommended new regulations on Monday to control Airbnb-style rentals in the hopes of increasing the amount of affordable rental housing and prevent “ghost hotels” in the city.

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According to a report for action released by the City of Toronto on June 7th, 2017, there is anecdotal evidence that short-term rentals are reducing housing availability and tenants are being evicted so landlords can operate short-term rentals.

In addition, the city noted in the report that there were concerns about investors buying up multiple properties and running them like “ghost hotels,” with nobody actually residing in the given unit.

This is occurring while a large number of Toronto residents are already finding it difficult to find available and affordable housing.

As a result, the City of Toronto is set to consider an array of policy recommendations to increase the supply of affordable and available housing.

The proposed regulations include:

  • Amending the City's zoning bylaws to create a new land use called "short-term rental" that is permitted in principal residences across the city;
  • Prohibiting short-term rentals that are not in a person's principal residence;
  • Licensing companies that facilitate short-term rental activity, like Airbnb;
  • Creating a registry for anyone who operates a short-term rental in their home.

If Toronto City Hall approves the new recommendations, Torontonians will only be able to list short-term rentals for the property they live in.

As it currently exists, Airbnb allows owners to list any property for rent and the time frame for renting can be as short as one night.

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According to the report, Airbnb is the company with the most short-term rental listings being advertised in Toronto, with the majority of its listings meeting the proposed definition of short-term rental.

"Based on information from Airbnb, staff estimate that the proposed regulations would permit approximately 7,600 properties rented on Airbnb in 2016 to continue to operate as they likely occurred in a principal residence," reads a statement included in the report. "Approximately 3,200 properties rented on Airbnb in 2016 would likely not be able to be registered as they likely did not occur in a principal residence."

City staff will be seeking public and stakeholder input on the proposed regulations during the third quarter of 2017.

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