Airbnb in Cabbagetown — “The Nightmare on Bleecker Street”
This is what Canadian cities are now experiencing as Airbnb vendors and other homeshare businesses are allowed to legally create ghost hotels in residential neighbourhoods.
Can you see the hotel on this street?
You probably can’t, but residents can on weekend nights. That’s when ‘the guests’ drop in.
The same group of investors bought the rowhouses at 92, 96, 104 and 106 Bleecker Street between 2012 and 2016 as individuals, and they now list all of them on homeshare sites through one federal corporation. The homes were bought with mortgages from different banks under different names, for a collective value of almost $4 million.
Once purchased, each of these homes was listed on Airbnb and other homeshare sites; together, they have been advertised as having the capacity to host 53 people in a single night.
After complaints from neighbors, Airbnb removed listings. Within weeks, the homeshare investor group reapplied for listings under a different name, but posting the same homes and addresses. As of Fairbnb.ca’s last check, they’ve all been listed again.
The Winchester Park Residents Association has frequently joined individual residents in filing complaints to City Hall about loud parties, excessive garbage, blocked streets, parking issues, amongst other complaints, culminating in a discussion at their June 6, 2016 meeting to discuss what the agenda called “Bleecker Street block busting and illegal rentals as party houses.” To date, no decisive action has been taken to limit the disruption.
All four properties are zoned residential, even though the sole purpose of each is now strictly commercial. Commercial property tax rates in Toronto are 3.8x the residential rate, so the operators have secured a huge tax discount by bypassing zoning rules.
Brian Kellow, a resident of Bleecker Street: “Houses that now lie empty and dark half the week and then are host to dozens of party goers every weekend. These illegal hotels are replacing housing for families, creating a whole new class of precarious housing
Winchester Park Residents’ Association
City of Toronto Public Records
Canada and Ontario Corporation Registries & Ontario Land Titles