toronto airbnb short term rental

More than 12K Airbnb rentals in Toronto are said to be exploiting a legal loophole

An opposition politician is calling on Doug Ford's government to crack down on Airbnb units, asserting that hosts using the notorious short-term rental service are exploiting a loophole in the City of Toronto's new short-term rental bylaw.

Ontario NDP Housing critic and University-Rosedale MPP Jessica Bell stood alongside multiple advocacy groups at a press conference Tuesday to call out premier Ford and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, demanding they investigate and clamp down on illegal short-term rentals in investment properties.

Bell asserts that "Toronto's short-term rental market has contributed to a housing shortage and a rise in illegal evictions as investors have kicked out tenants to convert properties into pricey short-term rentals."

"There are over 12,000 short-term rentals currently advertised on Airbnb in Toronto for stays of 28 days or more," said Bell, calling this "a loophole Airbnb is exploiting to avoid complying with the city's new short-term rental law, which only applies to homes rented for 28 days or less."

This is not quite a blanket ban on shorter stays, as operators offering accommodations rented for 28 or fewer days can do so as long as they register with the City and collect and remit a four per cent Municipal Accommodation Tax on all rentals.

The bylaw changes have had Airbnb hosts opting for lengthier stays en masse, but their guests are not afforded the same protections as long-term tenants who might be leasing the exact same floorplan right across the hall.

Bell was joined at the press conference by advocacy groups Fairbnb Canada, the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, Friends of Kensington Market, and a local Airbnb guest and tenant facing an illegal eviction threat.

Though the bylaw limiting short-term rentals is specific to the City of Toronto, Bell stressed that "Many of these short-term rentals advertised through Airbnb also violate Ontario law because the tenant does not sign a standard Ontario lease, which is required by law. Tenants are treated like transient guests who can be evicted at the landlord's whim with the click of a button."

Present at the press conference was Tianning Ning, who, along with her family, has been renting a Toronto house for ten months through Airbnb, and was told earlier in January that they only had until the end of the month to vacate the property. Ning says she later saw the home rental relisted for twice the rate her family was charged.

This doesn't align with the provincial Residential Tenancies Act's mandatory 60 days' written notice a landlord must provide tenants before terminating a lease.

Thorben Wieditz, director of Fairbnb Canada, says that "it's atrocious that tenants in Ontario are being treated like this."

"A landlord cannot use platforms like Airbnb to bring in tenants, then wash their hands of provincial rental laws," continued Wieditz, adding that "the government should crack down on investors who use Airbnb to make money on the backs of people desperate for a home."

Ning's provincial representative, NDP Toronto-St. Paul's MPP Jill Andrew stated that "Renters in our unaffordable city have it hard enough," adding that "renters are sick of seeing governments treat investors as more important than their right to a home."

"The Ford government must use its resources and tools to crack down on illegal short-term rentals in investment properties."

Andrew makes the case that "Tenant protections in the RTA exist for a reason – to ensure the right to stable, secure housing is met for renters across the province," claiming that this is one department where the current short-term rental policy falls short.

"The housing crisis in Ontario means that people are finding housing in whichever way or means they can, sometimes through Airbnb," says Andrew.

"It's on the government to adapt to this changing landscape and fill in these tenant protection gaps that can – and have – left folks out in the cold on a moment's notice."

Bell has also penned a letter to Steve Clark and Attorney General Doug Downey seeking action on short-term rentals, specifically pressuring the province to close this frequently-abused loophole.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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