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Airbnb driving up rent in Toronto, group says

Last Updated Mar 15, 2017 at 7:03 pm EDT

Airbnb has launched an ad campaign targeting homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages, but a local coalition is calling on the city to impose stricter rules on the burgeoning short-term rental market.

While the hot housing market in Toronto has led to a short supply of rental units and soaring rents, a recent report by Fairbnb claims short-term condo rentals are also a big part of the problem.

“I think it definitely has (contributed to the rental crisis),” said Fairbnb’s Thorben Wieditz.

“The city of Toronto’s vacancy rate is 1.3 per cent — in some of the condo buildings and condo districts it’s actually below one per cent — and removing any units of the housing market will definitely decrease the supply and increase the demand, increase the prices, and make it more difficult for people to find a place to live.”

The city is about to begin consultations on the best way to regulate home-sharing. Fairbnb will be asking for restrictions that protect the rental market while allowing for legitimate homeowners, like CityNews cameraman Adrian Golombek.

Golombek said he uses Airbnb because he still has control of his house, whereas if he had a problem with a regular renter, he would have a hard time evicting the person.

“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to pay the bills,” he said.

“It’s a lot of work — it’s a lot of people coming in and out and a lot of cleaning. But I would say in the summertime, you could make double what you would make if it was just a regular renter.”

Faribnb supports a one host, one listing policy, which would prevent people from buying and renting multiple properties.

“There are about 12,000 listings in the city of Toronto, and one of the remarkable things we found … is that 16 per cent of the hosts that rent out on Airbnb have multiple listings on the platform at any given moment,” Wieditz said.

Those hosts in turn control about 40 per cent of Toronto’s Airbnb listings.

“The overarching goal of our policy recommendations is to put any available rental listing back onto the traditional rental market,” Wieditz said.

Meanwhile, NDP MPP Peter Tabuns will table a bill Thursday which would provide rent control for all Ontarians, including those in newer buildings.

Related stories:

Canadians turning to second-hand trade to ‘make ends meet’

Toronto considering regulating Airbnb rentals

Vancouver proposes licensed short-term Airbnb stays to increase rental supply

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