airbnb toronto

Airbnb hosts in Toronto are instructing guests to lie about stays

Even though the City of Toronto keeps trying to tighten up the rules and practices governing short-term rentals in the city, thousands of local Airbnbs are thought to be operating illegally at any given time, with residents often complaining of lax enforcement in their buildings.

And, it seems some hosts aren't even shy about the fact that they're skirting bylaws, fully outing themselves as illegally listing their units in the instructions they present to guests.

A visitor sparked discussion on the subject on X this week when they shared what they felt was a very suspicious request from the owner of the Airbnb they'd recently booked in downtown Toronto.

While describing how to access the unit, the host advised the traveller to say they were visiting a person named Glen if questioned by the condo's front desk staff.

It seems based on responses to the post — which has been viewed more than 3.4 million times and retweeted more than 550 — that the concerning ask is a trend in cities all over the place, but especially in Toronto.

Multiple others jumped in to offer their own similar experiences of being instructed to pretend they were visiting someone who lived in the accommodations they were renting short-term.

In these cases, it is likely that the person renting out the home does not have a right to, whether because of rules against short-term rentals in their building or because they are a renter or subletter of the spot themselves.

Amid jokes about what the security of the building must think of Glen and his many visitors  — "Glen loves to party," one person quipped — many voiced real concerns about rental arbitrage and the toll that short-term rentals (illegal ones in particular) are taking on Toronto's housing market and others around the world.

"People commenting on this as if illegal Airbnbs are cute and not actually a major problem in popular tourist cities around the world," one person wrote.

"Toronto has regulations for Airbnb and there are fines if you're not registered. Sounds like the rules work as expected," another said.

Many chimed in to say the practice is "too common" in Toronto and on the platform in general.

"That's every Airbnb in downtown Toronto," one person added.

A few said that if put in the same situation, they would tell the concierge the truth to expose the person. Some also argued that such a clause should mean "immediate cancel and termination of this host's account."

Currently, the City is assessing the efficacy of its short-term rental bylaws, with staff thus far recommending a slew of new measures to help "uphold the program's principles, further prevent commercialized short-term rental activity and address enforcement and bylaw interpretation challenges."

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