ghost hotels toronto

Toronto neighbourhood wants to get rid of ghost hotels

Airbnb has caused plenty of controversy since it first arrived in Toronto. 

It's had quite the impact on housing supply in the GTA, and now Kensington Market residents are trying to do something about it. 

Community group Friends of Kensington Market has launched No Ghost Hotels, a campaign to raise awareness about Airbnbs run by a businessperson who doesn't live there, also known as a ghost hotel. 

As it stands, No Ghost Hotels says unregulated Airbnbs create fewer long-term housing options, a breakdown of community, an increase in rental prices, prioritization of profit over community interests, and incentivization for landlords to use renovictions to push out existing tenants

Currently, there are 216 high-availability listings in Kensington-Chinatown, which means entire homes or apartments that are highly available year-round for tourists because no one actually lives there.

On top of that, 69.9 per cent of hosts on the platform have multiple high-availability listings.

According to No Ghost Hotels, "hosts with multiple listings are more likely to be running a business, are unlikely to be living in the property, and would be in violation of most short term rental laws designed to protect residential housing."

In Kensington Market, high availability means being booked for about half the year, or an average of 155 days. 

"Right now, one of the threats to a livable Toronto is unregulated Airbnb hosts turning long-term rental units into short-stay units. A relatively small number of hosts purchase disproportionate amounts of housing and convert them to be used exclusively as Airbnbs," they say. 

Signs advertising the campaign have recently been spotted across Kensington Market, encouraging residents to get involved. 

Activists are asking Airbnb users to use hosts with less than three listings, and be extra cautious of full-home listings.

They're also asking travelers to try and rent Airbnbs in less saturated neighbourhoods.

They ask that if travelers do find themselves in a ghost hotel and want to help, they leave a review for the host that describes the problem to potential future guests.

"We're losing our neighbours, our artists and our community," one Kensington resident said in a video about the issue. 

"We strongly encourage tourism and development, in harmony with community and nature."

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