By: Ed Hitchins
Toronto city council may be giving short-term renters may have a greater lease on life.
Later this week councilors will vote on legislative changes that could provide greater leeway for short-term rental services like Airbnb.Among the changes that are being tabled during council is a short-term rental registry. This would allow owners of houses to rent up to three rooms in their dwellings for up to 28 days. Landlords would have to declare the property as their “principal residence” as well as pay a fee of up to $50 per year.
“I welcome it,” says Emily Smith of Toronto, who with her husband Chris has been an Airbnb host for approximately four years.
“I think too much regulation can create problems, but this is a good first step.”
The original plans allowed landlords to use separate units – like a basement apartment – for short-term rentals before that proposal was rejected in council last month.
Thorben Wieditz, head of the lobbying initiative Fairbnb, is supportive of what the council is attempting to do, given the huge housing shortage in the Toronto.
“Simply put, Airbnb takes away from the long-term to the short-term rental market,” says Wieditz.
“Look for a two or three-bedroom apartment on an app search and you’ll find there are more Airbnb listings than actual rental properties.”
Wieditz suggests that in 2016 alone, over 3,000 long-term rentals were bought and converted to short-term tourist rentals under Airbnb.
“We’re suffering from a severe housing crisis,” says Wieditz.“The vacancy rate in Toronto has been dropping on an annual basis. Airbnb is taking away rental properties from long-term residents.”
The proposed legislation comes on the heels of the City of Vancouver, who tabled the idea of a short-term registry in November.
“One thing Vancouver has done, which we support is basically banned the use of secondary suites, such as basement apartments, for the short-term rental purpose,” says Wieditz.
“A long-term resident can however rent it out short-term. However, the owner cannot.”
This is a statement that Smith, a former English teacher entered the housing market by renting to international students, can agree with.
“What people are doing, is not what Airbnb is about,” says Smith.
“I’m a personable host. I like to the chance to talk to my guests and to be as friendly as we can.”