airbnb toronto

More than a dozen hosts charged for breaking new short-term rental rules in Toronto

After banning short-term rentals for a few months due to the risks posed by COVID-19, the City of Toronto gave such vacation properties the green light to operate once more last summer, albeit with more stringent rules in place.

Though listings dwindled due to new regulations — such as the fact that units have to be an owner's primary residence — it's been estimated that tens of thousands of Airbnbs have still been operating outside the guidelines and without the newly required license number.

The city busted a handful of hosts recently, laying 16 charges for noncompliance, but it has apparently been extremely hard to enforce the new rules and to tackle problem properties.

The fact that more than a whopping 90 per cent of owners hadn't properly registered their properties just weeks before the deadline to do so at the end of 2020 is likely a factor, as is the fact that platforms like Airbnb aren't taking measures to vet properties to check if listings are licensed beforehand.

"We have to go off and investigate, as opposed to them proactively not allowing people on the platform to start with... to comb through the thousands of listings, we don’t have the resources nor is it sustainable or realistic," Ward 13-Toronto Centre City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam told CTV News on the topic Wednesday.

Under the province's colour-coded reopening framework, short-term rentals in regions in the Grey-Lockdown zone — which include Toronto and Peel — cannot actually operate unless they were booked before Nov. 22, or unless they are being occupied by people in need of housing.

The city vowed to get heavy-handed with enforcement of new rules at the end of last summer, hoping to crack down on "ghost hotel" investment properties, many of which ended up being converted into regular long-term rentals over the course of the health crisis.

It also said it would be taking action "against short-term rental companies that allow unregistered operators to list on their platform or contravene the bylaw," though that clearly remains to be seen.

Airbnb competitor Vrbo actually pulled out of the city due to the new "regulatory environment," which the Expedia Group-owned company found to be too prohibitive, but which operators have apparently been able to find loopholes in.

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