Airbnb’s Business Model “Invading Canadian Neighbourhoods” Coalition Launches in Toronto

(TORONTO) Today, a new coalition called “” launched its campaign to bring legal fairness to the growing ‘homeshare’ market in Canada. The Coalition is launching in Toronto, where Airbnb and similar firms have seen a rapid change in their business practices.

  • Since 2012, Airbnb listings in Toronto grew by about 845%;
  • Over 60% of the 9,447 listings are complete homes rather than shared rooms;
  • In Toronto, over 1,000 Airbnb hosts had 2 or more listings on the website, controlling 3,545 units – or almost 40% of listings in the city;
  • The top ten hosts each had between 18 to 52 units listed in May.

“Canadian cities are now seeing what other cities have seen worldwide: through Airbnb and similar platforms, hundreds of burner homes are now being rented out by vendors who are really running ghost hotels outside the regulated market,” said Lis Pimentel, UNITE HERE Local 75 President, representing Toronto hotel workers.

To back its claim that Airbnb vendors are “invading” neighbourhoods, the Coalition’s website will include a “Homeshare Horror Story of the Week.” The first case: a once-quiet stretch of Bleecker Street in Toronto’s Cabbagetown, where homeowners and co-op residents are tormented by one ghost hotel company that bought several historic townhouses.

Brian Kellow, a Bleecker Street resident, explained how the invasion of his neighbourhood is taking its toll: “On our street we have seen almost half of the houses on one side of the street purchased by one group of owners. Houses now lie empty and dark half the week and then are host to dozens of partygoers every weekend.  The only contribution they make is piles of trash, noise and the occasional tour-bus that now blocks our street as partiers unload.”

“We have a tight market for rentals in several Canadian cities, and the rental stock has not been growing for the past few decades,” said Geordie Dent of the Metro Federation of Tenants’ Associations. “Online ghost hotels are pulling rental stock out of the housing supply for purely commercial uses, making life harder for Torontonians and others who are struggling to find an affordable rental home. This could nullify the benefits of a number of current initiatives including Federal and Provincial money for housing, Inclusionary Zoning and the Mayor’s TCHC Taskforce.”

“Here in Canada, thousands of hoteliers and bed-and-breakfast operators comply with existing zoning, building, tax, safety and license rules. All we’re asking for is a legal regime that will make sure Airbnb and its vendors do the same, since they now represent about 20% of the hotel supply in Toronto alone,” said Deepak Ruparell, owner and President of the Silver Hotel Group.

“We are deeply concerned that AirBnB and transient rentals in general are not regulated or legislated. Condominiums are personal residences and not hotels. The turnover rate involved with transient rentals affects the operations, operational expenses and value of condominium corporations,” said Linda Pinizzotto, President of the Condominium Owners’ Association.

Recently, councillors in Toronto, Vancouver, Mississauga and Victoria have all asked city staff to study so-called “homesharing” in response to local complaints and rental market trends. However, the Coalition insists it will not be lobbying for a roomsharing ban. “We aren’t trying to ban Airbnb. We’re not faulting anyone who legally offers a short-term rental in their house or suite,” said Bobbie Redden, who works at a downtown Toronto hotel. “We’re just asking for fair and consistent application of the rules for everyone.”

Further announcements to update the Coalition’s support across Canada and to elaborate on the group’s policy objectives will be forthcoming through the summer.

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