airbnb toronto

Airbnb hosts now banned from offering short-term vacation rentals in Toronto

Hotels may be considered an essential service, but Airbnb rentals are decidedly not — or so says the Government of Ontario.

Regulations issued by the province under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act were amended on Friday to shorten the list of businesses considered "essential" during this active state of emergency down to 44 from 74.

Available now in full via the government's website, the order provides further details about how services deemed critical are allowed to operate in the Ontario, and it is now perfectly clear where short-term rentals stand.

As of 11:59 p.m. on April 4, vacation rentals booked through sites like Airbnb are permitted exclusively for emergency housing purposes.

"Every person who provides short term rentals in rental accommodations shall ensure that any rentals booked after April 4, 2020 are only provided to individuals who are in need of housing during the emergency period," reads the order

"[This rule] does not apply in respect of hotels, motels and student residences."

Previous to the government's official order, several Toronto condo buildings had already directed Airbnb-lords to shut down their operations for the duration of the pandemic.

"The Board of Directors has sought professional advice in light of the growing state of emergency and has determined that short-term rentals within the Corporation during the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic presents an undue risk of danger to TSCC 2510's residents and the short-term tenants themselves," reads a memo send to unit owners at the ICE Condos complex on York Street late last month.

Individual Airbnb hosts have expressed concerns about losing income due to restrictions such as these, as well as international border closures that prohibit tourists from coming into Canada.

The controversial short-term rental platform, oft-criticized for driving up rents, flouting the law and eating into Toronto's long-term rental housing supply, even went so far as to ask the federal government for tax relief in these trying times.

Government officials said no.

Now that Airbnbs are officially outlawed in Ontario (at least while the emergency order remains in place), Airbnb hosts can face fines of up to $100,000 for renting their spots out to tourists. Airbnb itself could see fines of up to $10,000,000 should the company knowingly allow it.

"Leisure travel should not occur right now and we have encouraged our host and guest community to follow all restrictions," said Airbnb spokesperson Alex Dagg when asked about the newly-modified order.

"We're glad the Province of Ontario recognizes the many situations where short-term rentals remain an available resource during this crisis, including for frontline responders, other workers requiring isolation and those sheltering in place during this crisis."

The company has, for the record, launched a program since the COVID-19 crisis hit that's resulted in 100,000 homes being offered up by hosts to help house medical workers who need safe places to stay and self-isolate near hospitals.

Lead photo by

omarg247 from Pixabay

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