airbnb covid

More Toronto Airbnbs are turning into normal apartment rentals thanks to COVID-19

With people across the world being advised not to leave their houses more than is necessary amid the COVID-19 pandemic — let alone hop on an airplane for a trip — companies like Airbnb and their hosts are finding themselves extremely hard up for business right now.

Hotels and other types of accommodation in Ontario are considered essential and thus are still able to remain open under the current state of emergency, but with health and safety risks at an all-time high and occupancy rates at an all-time low, some have chosen to shutter anyway.

Even if Airbnbs can still operate by choice, condo corporations such as those behind ICE Condos and the Residences of Maple Leaf Square have recently stepped up to outright ban short-term rentals due to the health risk of having so many strangers in and out of their buildings.

Unfortunately for those Airbnb owners who are now bemoaning a dramatic drop in revenue, people are not feeling very sympathetic given that virtually everyone is experiencing the financial pressures that the novel coronavirus situation has brought.

There is also the fact that the prevalence of short-term rentals through companies such as Airbnb has helped cause rents in Toronto to skyrocket and the number of apartments available for local renters to drop, leaving tenants in the city with a distaste for what many have deemed ghost hotels and the people that run them.

(Though new short-term rental regulations were meant to curb this, some have still operated illegally.)

Now, as Airbnb owners find themselves strapped for customers and money, more and more seemingly former short-term rentals are starting to pop up on long-term rental sites, with more and more former hosts considering becoming actual landlords.

Residents of Toronto are noticing that furnished units complete with Airbnb-esque photos showing things like towels folded atop fully made beds have been on the rise on sites like REALTOR.ca and bungol.ca, while the prices for actual Airbnb listings continue to drop in an attempt to solicit guests.

"To me it's clear that it's Airbnb owners trying to secure some income with long term tenants," one Redditor noticed in what became a popular thread on the topic earlier this month.

With so many rentals vacant worldwide, Airbnb made the gesture of offering 100,000 front-line healthcare workers free or subsidized housing given current circumstances. Hosts have a choice to opt in to the new initiative to make their property available for the cause, though they'll need to be okay with doing so for free.

The company has also done its part on behalf of its hosts, vowing to offer $250 million to support those impacted by the flood of recent trip cancellations — but it will only cover bookings that were made and then cancelled since March 14, and not a simple lack of bookings in the first place.

Perhaps all of this will culminate into some much-needed good news for the notoriously tight Toronto rental market when this is all over.

Lead photo by

Wes Hicks/Unsplash


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