More than 8,000 Airbnb properties are non-compliant with city regulations: report
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2019 3:12PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 9, 2019 5:13PM EST
More than 8,000 Toronto properties listed on Airbnb fail to comply with the city’s regulations for short term rentals but remain on the site pending the resolution of several court proceedings, a new report has found.
The city passed a series of regulations governing short-term accommodations sites like Airbnb back in December 2017.
Among other things, the regulations cap the number of nights in a calendar year in which a full unit can be rented at 180 and restrict owners from renting out any property other than their principal residence.
The rules, however, cannot be enforced until the resolution of multiple appeals currently before the Ontario Municipal Board.
On Wednesday, members of a coalition that has been supportive of stricter regulations for short-term rental platforms held a press conference at city hall to discuss a report examining Airbnb data through the lens of the city’s regulations.
They said that the data suggests that 8,241 units out of the estimated 19,000 Toronto units listed on AirBnb last month are not compliant with the city’s regulations and that those properties account for 73 per cent of the service’s estimated revenue in Toronto.
“We can say that over 8,000 listings are not complying with the city’s rules and that 6,500 entire homes have been turned into ghost hotels and mostly in the downtown core, around the subway lines, in areas where people would have access to jobs and in area where people actually want to live and need to live,” Fairbnb researcher Thorben Wieditz said. “If the City of Toronto and the province work together on a housing supply action plan they have to take into consideration that Airbnb and short term rentals present a significant barrier to actually achieving their supply goals.”
Airbnb says report is based on ‘faulty assumptions’
In a news release, Fairbnb said that its research “debunks” Airbnb’s contention that it exists as a platform for ordinary people interested in renting out all or part of their homes.
For its part, Airbnb said that the report is “based on faulty assumptions and poor research” and does not accurately reflect the state of short term rentals in Toronto.
“This report is based on faulty assumptions and poor research, and is yet another example of the well-resourced and clearly biased hotel lobby, seeking to villainize families who are making a little extra income by sharing their homes,” spokesperson Alex Dagg said in a written statement provided to CP24. “It is troubling that the hotel lobby continues to advocate for bypassing a democratic appeal process put in place to give voice to the citizens of Toronto.”
While Dagg said that Airbnb does want to be regulated and “looks forward to continuing” a “collaborative relationship” with the city, at least one downtown councillor thinks the company ought to de-list properties that are not in compliance with the regulations as a show of good faith.
Ward 10 Coun. Joe Cressey told reporters at Wednesday’s press conference that Airbnb “should abide by the council rules and delist all the non-compliant listings today.”
He said that such a move would go a long way in improving the supply of rental housing in Toronto, where the vacancy rate currently hovers around 1.1 per cent. A healthy vacancy rate is considered to be three per cent, Cressey said.
“Airbnb said from the get go that they are prepared to work with the City of Toronto and would abide by our rules so don’t play this out in the courts, don’t wait for an OMB ruling, don’t let the affordability crisis continue for another year,” Cressey said.