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City finds Airbnb worsened Toronto’s housing crisis

This week the City of Toronto was at a tribunal that will determine the future of rules passed early last year to regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb.

The regulations include restricting rentals to the owner’s principal residence and requiring short-term renters to register with the city and pay a four-per-cent municipal accommodation tax.

Housing advocates and property owners squared off as the local planning appeal tribunal began hearings, expected to last for at least the next week, after several residents appealed the changes.

The city has argued the regulations are important to maintain the accessibility and affordability of long-term rental options as the city faces an acute housing crunch.

The rise in short-term rental activity across the city and beyond has worsened the problem of affordability which is why there is an urgent need for regulations despite stiff resistance from landlords who find it more lucrative to rent out whole suites for short-term rentals rather than put it on the long-term rental market.

Lawyers were on hand to defend their landlord clients and they pointed out that short-term rentals actually provided more choice and cheaper options for visitors as well as newcomers to the city while at the same time gave flexibility to owners.

The regulations for short-term rentals were approved by Toronto city council at the start of 2018 but appealed before they could be put in place. A delay in the appeal process last year put off the hearing until this week.

The rules allow an entire primary residence to be rented out when an owner or long-term tenant is away, up to 180 nights per year.

At the end of the day many owners of second units feel that they should have the right to decide who they want to rent it to and for what duration. Many feel unfairly blamed for the city’s housing crisis which is really the responsibility of elected officials who have failed to take appropriate steps to ensure housing affordability and have not built adequate housing for low income Torontonians. -CINEWS

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