I applaud yesterdays’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) decision to uphold the City of Toronto’s short-term rental rules. This is a big step forward in addressing the impact that these so-called “home-sharing” companies have had on the availability of Toronto’s housing stock. While services such as AirBnB and Expedia allow homeowners to supplement their income, they have also allowed aggressive landlords and private companies to effectively evict long-term tenants and turn their homes into “ghost hotels” in the middle of Toronto’s affordable housing crisis.
In late 2015, City Council support my motion directing Municipal Licensing and Standards to create new regulations for short-term rental services. The city introduced new zoning by-laws and regulations in late 2017 year to manage short-term rentals. These measures include having homeowners using these platforms to register annually with the city, allowing their entire homes to be rented for a maximum of no more than 180 days per year and requiring that the home is an owner’s actual principal residence.
While Toronto renters struggle to keep a roof over their families heads, the LPAT’s decision will potentially bring 5000 illegal short-term rental units back into the city’s rental housing inventory. Longtime advocacy groups such as Fairbnb Canada and have suggested that the actual number is likely two or three times higher.
With Toronto’s rental vacancy rate being approximately 1% - far below what is considered healthy - these homes are desperately needed to relieve pressure on rents. Toronto has a long way to go to solve its affordability crisis, but this decision will definitely assist renters and improve accountability for landlords into the future.
The courts have ruled that Toronto’s short-term rental regulations are fair and reasonable. After years of lengthy delays, it’s time for these companies and their clients to follow the follow the rules. For many in our city, it’s a matter of being housed and living with dignity. It’s time to get on with it.