QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario NDP Housing critic Jessica Bell (University—Rosedale) is calling on the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to investigate and crack down on illegal short-term rentals in investment properties.
Bell joined the advocacy group Fairbnb Canada at a press conference Tuesday to call attention to the problem. She was joined by the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, Friends of Kensington Market, and a Toronto Airbnb guest and tenant who is facing an illegal eviction threat.
“Toronto’s short-term rental market has contributed to a housing shortage and a rise in illegal evictions as investors have kicked out tenants to convert properties into pricey short-term rentals,” Bell said. “There are over 12,000 short-term rentals currently advertised on Airbnb in Toronto for stays of 28 days or more – a loophole Airbnb is exploiting to avoid complying with the city’s new short-term rental law, which only applies to homes rented for 28 days or less.
“Many of these short-term rentals advertised through Airbnb also violate Ontario law because the tenant does not sign a standard Ontario lease, which is required by law. Tenants are treated like transient guests who can be evicted at the landlord’s whim with the click of a button.”
Tianning Ning is one such tenant: she and her family have been renting a Toronto house they booked on Airbnb for 10 months, but were informed by the owner in early January that their family would have to vacate by the end of the month.
Ning said she subsequently saw the home they are renting re-listed on Airbnb for roughly double the price her family has been paying.
“It’s atrocious that tenants in Ontario are being treated like this. A landlord cannot use platforms like Airbnb to bring in tenants, then wash their hands of provincial rental laws,” said Thorben Wieditz, director of Fairbnb Canada. “The government should crack down on investors who use Airbnb to make money on the backs of people desperate for a home.”
Bell has written to Housing Minister Steve Clark and Attorney General Doug Downey calling on their government to uphold and enforce the province’s Residential Tenancies Act and crack down on illegal short-term rentals in investment properties.
“Renters in our unaffordable city have it hard enough,” said NDP MPP Jill Andrew, whose riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s encompasses the home Ning’s family has been renting. “Renters are sick of seeing governments treat investors as more important than their right to a home. The Ford government must use its resources and tools to crack down on illegal short-term rentals in investment properties.”
“Tenant protections in the RTA exist for a reason – to ensure the right to stable, secure housing is met for renters across the province. The housing crisis in Ontario means that people are finding housing in whichever way or means they can, sometimes through Airbnb. It’s on the government to adapt to this changing landscape and fill in these tenant protection gaps that can – and have – left folks out in the cold on a moments notice.