Airbnb and Rental Shortages – Public Consultation Begins on Proposed Regulations

While our City struggles to deal with the growing shortage of rental housing and affordability, we've moved forward in setting out a regulatory framework that balances true home-sharing with the increasing loss of rental housing due to conversions to Airbnb listings. 

At Executive Committee in June, next steps for public consultation on the proposed regulations were approved, and will now move ahead. The regulatory framework includes:

  • Only permitting home-sharing at a home where you live: this aims to curb consolidation and purchasing of multiple vacant properties, then used for Airbnb rather then remaining on the rental housing market
  • Amending zoning bylaws to create a separate category called "short-term rental"
  • Licensing companies like Airbnb and others
  • Starting a registry of anyone operating a short-term rental unit

In all my discussions I have found that very few people oppose the principle of home sharing. People have been renting out rooms in their primary residences for years. However, Airbnb has changed the game completely. We are now witnessing entire rental units and houses being taken off the rental market to make way for short-term stays. This is problematic on many fronts. As a business, these investor driven short-term rentals are not taxed fairly. As a rental location, few (if any) protections are in place to ensure protection for users or neighbours. And, most importantly, this model is strangling an already strained rental housing market in our City.

Kensington Market is a perfect example. Last month there were 12 rental units on the market in Kensington, and more than 100 Airbnb units. An entire neighbourhood is being pushed out of their homes to make way for short-term rentals. This is a sector in desperate need of regulation.

The online survey is now available, and will be open until September 19th. Additional stakeholder and public consultation meetings will be held in the fall. A final report is expected to be at Executive Committee in the fourth quarter of 2017. 

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