Toronto approves new Airbnb rules aimed at helping the city's rental shortage

Dec 8 2017, 9:58 pm

It was a long day at City Hall for councillors on Thursday, but it ended with new short-term regulation for Toronto that would apply to local Airbnbs.

The first short term rental by-law was voted in with a 40-3 majority, lead by Mayor John Tory and Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao, who is also the City’s housing and social equity advocate.

The new rules would allow the rental of a principal residence only, and homeowners will not be allowed to list secondary suites, like a basement apartment, for short-term rental.

Homes being rented for short-term purposes, defined as 28 days or less, would have to be the principal residence of the owner, and anyone renting out their home would only be able to do so for a total of 180 nights per year.

Banning basements for short-term rentals aims to help the city’s long-term rental market, which currently has a vacancy rate of less than 1%.

“These regulations do the right thing in the right way. They strike a balance that embraces new technology and allows short-term rentals while protecting communities,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement. “I’m proud City Council has found a way to regulate short-term rentals in a way that will keep housing affordable.”


The City will have a short-term rental registry for landlords, such as those who list on Airbnb, and they would have to pay an annual fee of $50. Additionally, companies running short-term rentals would be open to providing the City information regarding rental should it request it. And in order to be licensed, companies like Airbnb would be required to pay a one-time application fee of $5,000, as well as $1.00 per night booked.

According to a City report released in June, the number of Airbnb listings in Toronto has tripled between 2014 and 2016, with 15,869 listings and over 10,000 properties rented in 2016. Within those rentals, 65% were listings for the entire unit, while 35% were for a room within a unit.

The new short-term rental rules will come into effect on June 1, 2018.

Fairbnb, a coalition formed in 2016 to fight for fair short-term rental rules, called Thursday’s vote a victory for Toronto.

“We hope Airbnb and its competitors understand that with such an overwhelming vote, Toronto is sending a message that it values long-term tenants over short-term profits,” said housing activist and Fairbnb member Gordie Dent. “We’re looking forward to working with City officials to help enforce these regulations once they take effect next year.”

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