Tribunal approves Toronto Airbnb regulations after years of delays

By: Zandile Chiwanza on November 19, 2019

After years of delays, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) has ruled in favour of the City of Toronto's stricter regulations on Airbnb and other short term rentals. 

The restrictions only allow short-term rentals (which the city defines as less than 28 consecutive days in length) in homes that have long-term tenants. As well, those renting out their units will have to pay an annual registration fee, will have the number of days that a residence can be rented out short-term capped at 180 per year and face a fine of up to $100,000, if the noted regulations are not abided by.

Toronto's short-term rental rules were approved back in December 2017 and have since been held up in a significantly delayed appeals process.

“This is a major victory for tenants across Ontario," said Thorben Wieditz of Fairbnb Canada in a press release. Fairbnb is a national coalition of homeowners, tenants, tourism businesses and labour organizations that has been advocating for fair rules for short term rentals since 2016.

The coalition says the new rules could return up to 5,000 housing units in the long-term housing market. 

“Whatever the number, one fact is indisputable: each dedicated (short-term rental) unit displaces one permanent household, ” tribunal member Scott Tousaw said in the decision

Some politicians also welcomed the news.

“In a city grappling with rental housing & affordability, yesterday’s ruling was an important victory for the City of Toronto. We proved that you can permit short-term rentals without negatively impacting our much-needed supply of rental housing,” tweeted Joe Cressy, city councillor for Spadina-Fort York. 

“This is good news for Toronto residents and a step in the right direction when it comes to regulating short-term rentals and keeping our neighborhoods livable,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

“The decision also notes, correctly, that these changes do not prohibit short-term rentals but permits and regulates them in a manner that does not displace households.”

Meanwhile, some are wondering if the crackdown on Airbnb will make a huge difference in the lives of renters in Toronto whose main concern is affordability. 

“It also means people will lose their homes because they won’t be able to make the mortgage payment anymore. Homeowners are not the problem. Lack of govt leadership is. Do your job and build more affordable housing,” tweeted one user.

City News reports Airbnb believes the rules may “unfairly punish some responsible short-term rental hosts who are contributing to the local economy.”

The City of Ottawa has been waiting for this key decision about the Toronto appeals and will be the next major municipality to pursue short term rental regulations.