Toronto will be implementing new Airbnb rules beginning Thursday, Sept. 10 that will require hosts to register with the city or face hefty fines. This, at a time when the short-term rental market is in steep decline following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Registration will cost $50 and must be paid annually. The city will then provide a registration number that must be included in all short-term rental listings and advertising on websites such as Airbnb, Hotels.com or Booking.com.
Failure to register could result in a $1,000 fine, according to the city. Current and prospective hosts must register by Dec. 31, 2020. Afterwards, they must register before renting their property.
Launching September 10: online registration for people short-term renting their homes in Toronto. Check out new rules for short-term rentals and make sure you are ready to register: https://t.co/mLm7wsR5WF. pic.twitter.com/qOBreokP6A
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) September 8, 2020
Hosts can only rent out their primary residence with the new rules, as well, and must pay a four per cent Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) quarterly. They can list their whole property for up to 180 nights per year or up to three rooms for an unlimited number of nights per year.
The regulations come years after they were first approved by city council in December 2017. Appeals caused them to be put in limbo for over a year, until the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) upheld the measures in November 2019.
Airbnbs and other short-term rentals have become more and more common in the city, creating what regulation advocacy group Fairbnb has called “ghost hotels” — when one owner buys up multiple properties to solely serve as short-term rentals.
This takes up valuable real estate downtown as the city contends with low stock already, according to Fairbnb spokesperson Thorben Wieditz, and has led to some out-of-control Airbnb parties.
Multiple shootings have occurred at Airbnbs that have been host to massive parties, such as one at the Bridle Path in August last year. Not only do the parties sometimes turn violent, but neighbours have reported up to 200 guests that create a lot of noise and clog up the street with their cars.
“It was really scary because it was the house right beside mine,” said 15-year-old neighbour Raha Ghafouri of the Bridle Path shooting. “What if they shot my window, came into the backyard?”
Now the city hopes the new regulations will prevent these kinds of incidents from occurring again by limiting Airbnb listings to hosts’ primary residence.
“This is good news for Toronto residents and a step in the right direction when it comes to regulating short-term rentals and maintaining the peace and quiet of our neighbourhoods,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement. “This system will provide crucial oversight of operators and ensure that they are held accountable and only operate within their principal residences.”