The Province of Ontario has banned short-term rentals, like Airbnb, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the new ruling states that as of 11:59 pm on April 4, short-term rentals are only permitted for individuals “who are in need of housing during the emergency period.”
In Toronto, one of the most notorious condos for Airbnb, prohibited short-term rentals last week due to the risk of community spread of the coronavirus.
At the time, Fairbnb.ca, a coalition that brings together groups from the regulated hotel and B&B industry with property owners, property renters, and other concerned citizens, stated that Toronto’s ICE condos management released a notice to owners at 12 York Street and 14 York Street, that said: “short-term rentals within the Corporation during the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic presents an undue risk of danger to TSCC2510’s residents and to the short-term tenants themselves.”
We applaud the Directors of the ICE condos & its property management company for prohibiting ALL STR activities.
— Fairbnb Canada (@Fairbnbcanada) March 24, 2020
And as a result, the Board of Directors prohibited all short-term rentals in the building until the current state of emergency is resolved.
“While this ban leaves the door open to legitimate use, it effectively shuts down still occurring party rentals and non-essential travel,” said Thorben Weiditz of Fairbnb Canada, in a statement.
Fairbnb Canada called on the premier last week to ban Airbnb and short term rentals to minimize community spread.
The coalition points out that anyone in contravention of the emergency law could yield fines up to $100,000 for individuals, and up to $10,000,000 for corporations.
“The ruling puts the onus on STR operators to decide whether a booking is legitimate,” Weiditz said. “It also doesn’t prevent anyone from renting their properties to long-term tenants to generate revenue.”
In a statement, Airbnb said that leisure travel shouldn’t occur right now.
“We have encouraged our host and guest community to follow all restrictions,” said Alex Dagg from Airbnb.
“We’re glad the Province of Ontario recognizes the many situations where short-term rentals remain an available resource during this crisis, including for frontline responders, other workers requiring isolation, and those sheltering in place during this crisis.”
Airbnb said it launched a program that has resulted in 100,000 homes being offered up by its host community to help house medical workers who need safe places to stay and self-isolate near hospitals.
The company said they’ve also updated their platform to advise guests to check travel restrictions prior to booking.
The updated Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act also prohibits open houses now.
“Every person who is responsible for a business that provides real estate agent services shall ensure that the business does not host, provide or support any open house events,” it reads.
The Province of Ontario has a total of 4,726 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday morning.