Rules for Airbnb on the agenda at city hall
The Airbnb logo hangs outside the company's Toronto office space.
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Monday, June 19, 2017 10:44AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 19, 2017 6:05PM EDT
A raft of proposed measures to regulate short-term rentals in Toronto will go before the city’s Executive Committee today.
The proposals, laid out in a staff report tabled last week, would make services like Airbnb register with the city and pay a licensing fee. Those who use the app to rent out their homes would also have to register with the city.
The rules would also limit short-term rentals to people’s primary residences, meaning that owners would not be allowed to rent out income properties for a term of less than 28 days.
Speaking with reporters Monday, Mayor John Tory said the new measures aim to help balance new technologies with the existing needs of residents and neighbourhoods.
“We have to deal with these emerging technology issues as they change the way we do business and live our lives,” Tory said.
Tory said the new measures are intended to “protect neighbourhoods, push more rental units back onto the market wherever possible and level the playing field for hotels and short-term rental providers which is still permitting an active short-term market to operate.”
The measures come amid ultra-low vacancy rates that make it difficult to find a place to live in Toronto. They are also meant to stop condo buildings from being turned into de facto hotels.
Last week, Airbnb issued a statement welcoming the report and saying it would need time to examine the proposals in more detail.
Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s global head of public policy, told CP24 Monday that the company is happy to “pay its fair share” as long as it is treated like other hotel services.
“We’re happy to have our community pay its fair share. They should pay the same levels as the hotels,” Lehane said. We’ve done 250 tax partnerships specifically. In all those places what we do is apply the same tax as the hotel is paying. That gets applied to the guests. I think that would make a lot of sense here.
He pointed out that in city’s like Los Angele, Chicago and New Orleans, taxes paid through Airbnb help fund the city’s affordable housing platform.
“As long as we’re being treated the same way, we’re happy to do it,” Lehane said. “We actually through our platform, can collect those taxes. We’re interested to engage with the city on that.”
Any recommendations the committee adopts would still have to go before a full session of city council to be approved.