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Airbnb, your lease is up

There is good news for Toronto residents when it comes to regulating short-term rentals and keeping our neighbourhoods liveable. As you may know, City Council adopted rules for short-term rental (STR) operators like Airbnb back in 2017, but the implementation was postponed when STR operators appealed to the LPAT. Finally, last week, the LPAT announced their decision to uphold our rules after all.

Mayor Tory said it best in his reaction to the verdict: “When we approved new regulations in 2017, we strived to strike a balance between letting people earn extra income through Airbnb and others, but we also wanted to ensure this did not withdraw potential units from the rental market. I have always believed our policy achieves the right balance, which, in this case, falls more on the side of availability of affordable rental housing and the maintenance of reasonable peace and quiet in Toronto neighbourhoods and buildings."

Background The case before the tribunal took so long that a refresher is probably in order. I have taken the step of meeting with City staff to find out when we can expect full implementation of the new rules. These rules will significantly impact Don Valley North and our neighbouring ward, Willowdale. Both our offices will get reports of all STR listings, from condos to high-end single-family homes being rented out as party houses.

Let’s look at the definition first to be clear where these new rules will apply.

How will this work?

When a new enforcement regime like this is set up, it takes time to get it right. The City will first focus on educating the public about the new regulations. We believe the majority of people will comply if they know about the regulations and we want to provide opportunity to do so. We will also work with both STR companies and operators to ensure compliance.

The registration system will allow the City to have oversight of operators and ensure they are accountable and only operate within principal residences. The City has the authority to revoke registration rights if needed. If the City cancels an operator's registration, the company would also be required to remove the operator from their platform.

Short-term rental companies will also be required to provide the City with data that includes operators' registration number, number of nights rented by type and location of listing.

What's next?

The City will have more information in mid-December 2019 about implementation, timelines and the licensing and registration process.

Carleton Grant, who manages Toronto's licensing division, tells me everything needs to be in place by May or June 1st at the latest to be ready for the height of the tourism and party season. So, what can you do in the meantime?

  1. Call me: If you are aware of a property being used for short-term rentals, we want to hear about it and map it in my office. Once enforcement begins, I want to provide staff with our own comprehensive view of where they should see licensing applications popping up in our ward to aid enforcement efforts.

  2. Call 311: While we are waiting for the rules to formally come into play, there is still basic enforcement. If a short term rental is causing you immediate problems, you should let my office know or call 311 anytime, day or night.

  3. Call TPS: As always, no matter which rules are in place, if you observe criminal activity you should call the police. Call 911 if you are in immediate danger or 416-808-2222 for non-emergencies. I want to assure you that calling the non-emergency number does work; police log every call, and over time this data informs strategic decisions about areas that are chronically problematic.

The future of STRs

Finally, if you are reading this and you are a STR host or use them when you travel, I want to take you back to Mayor Tory’s comment in the opening of this article. He really is reflecting the view of almost every member of Council.

A map showing a distribution of Airbnb listings across Toronto (Dec 2018)

Many residents of Toronto would have preferred an outright ban of these services. In arriving at these regulations, we took a direction that we believe is more realistic than a ban. The reality is, these services will exist illegally if we don’t provide a legitimate avenue. The reality is that Toronto is facing a housing crisis, and these rules provide a means for short-term rentals to continue to exist while freeing up space for people to live — for the long term.



A couple of weeks ago I discussed the motions I put forward at the Special Committee on Governance regarding ranked ballots and campaign finance reform.

I asked that we initiate the process to pass a by-law allowing for a ranked ballot election in 2022 and for the City Clerk to review and report back about moving to a New York City Campaign Finance Authority model of financing Toronto Municipal Elections. Both motions failed in Committee, but I had a chance to revive them at our meeting of City Council yesterday.

I'm proud to announce both motions passed!

This means Toronto is one step closer to having a ranked ballot election in 2022 as well as a more transparent and fair campaign process.

I look forward to seeing what comes back and updating you on the process.


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