top of page

The party's over - we must crack down on Airbnb now


Last weekend we heard the tragic news that three young men are dead after a Friday night party gone wrong. By the time we were waking up and reading about it, police had already established that the condo unit where the violent incident happened had been rented out via Airbnb. The local councillor, Joe Cressy, spent the weekend speaking with media about the need to expedite Council’s new bylaws on short-term rentals. Joe spoke mainly within the context of how this is impacting condo life downtown, but he knows we have a problem north of the 401 as well.

New bylaws I want to assure you, especially those dealing with this in your neighbourhood, that City staff and all of us on Council are acutely aware of your concerns. The bylaws City Council passed are designed to address the problems created by short-term rentals while acknowledging the limited circumstances that would allow them to be used as an occasional source of income. Here is a FAQ our Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) department prepared about the new bylaws:

Freeing up the rental market Whenever Airbnb lobbyists visit councillors, they tell us their hosts are nice people who have a big basement apartment they want to rent out so they can age in place, or a nice young teacher who wants to travel in the summer while her apartment earns income to pay off her student loan. That's all fine — and if it's an accurate representation of their business, Airbnb should have no qualms about the City's new bylaws because those scenarios would be legal. However, Airbnb and other short-term rental companies continue to appeal our bylaws in court.

What we must stamp out, particularly given our current housing affordability crisis, is taking a legitimate basement apartment right out of the rental market to list it on Airbnb. Landlords are given a licence to operate a second suite because our city needs housing options. The tenant will have a certain number of days a year they can list their apartment but landlords cannot evict them to host a short-term rental. In our single-family neighbourhoods — like many in Don Valley North — we must stamp out property speculators buying multiple dwellings and renting them out for parties.

If you own a home and you are a snowbird, you can still list your property (as long as it's your main residence) for up to 180 days a year. What the bylaws assume is that if this house is your own personal home, you will exercise some caution in renting it out short-term so that your home is not destroyed during a wild party or tainted by violence. Enforcement Should Airbnb and other short-term rental companies drop their legal challenges, I want City Staff to be ready to enforce.

Last year, when we had hoped to start enforcing our new rules, Council made room for 37 dedicated staff positions in the Municipal Licensing and Standards budget. I made a point of getting a status update before adopting this year’s budget. Carleton Grant, the head of MLS, assures me the positions were not filled pending the long LPAT hearing and its results, but he’s ready to proceed now.

Setting up a specialized enforcement unit and hiring and training specialized enforcement officers can begin right now. On the strength of our LPAT decision, Mr. Grant wants his new team out in force this summer, just as the party season ramps up. As always, I will keep you up to date through this e-blast.


Community Events & Notices








bottom of page