Toronto admits city touted short-term rental fees were never actually deposited

TORONTO – Four charges against suspected violators of the short-term rental by-law that were touted by city inspectors in a report to Toronto City Council have in fact never been laid, CTV News Toronto has learned.

Instead, the charges are still being investigated, although CTV News Toronto has found more apparent rule violations, including what appeared to be an entire apartment building converted to short-term rental, this which raises fears that the new regulation will be more difficult to apply than originally thought. .

“There needs to be more vigor, more rigor on both sides to bring this industry into compliance, like any other industry,” Toronto City Councilor Paula Fletcher said Thursday.

Last month, Fletcher asked the city’s municipal licensing and standards department to answer a series of questions about the application of Toronto’s new short-term rental bylaw.

The regulation went into effect in January, requiring anyone intending to rent an apartment for less than 28 days to obtain a municipal permit and limiting ownership to their primary residence. The idea behind the regulation is to allow limited short-term rentals but to preserve the city’s rental housing stock.

The response, in a report to council this week, was that between Jan. 1 and Jan. 24, “staff issued one notice of violation and four charges related to short-term rentals. Of these four charges, two concerned [to] the operation of a short-term rental without authorization, and two concerned the rental or advertising of a short-term rental in a property outside a principal residence.

When CTV News Toronto asked for more details on the charges, the city initially said the details were under wraps, as was the city’s “general practice” – before relenting and admitting that the charges had failed. not at all been worn.

“The report should have made it clear that the four cases in question are under final review, which could lead to further enforcement action, including charges,” a city spokesman said.

The many bureaucratic documents needed to contain the alleged rule violations should be replaced with a requirement that Airbnb only release suites with existing licenses, said Thorben Wieditz, with Fairbnb, who criticized the short-term practices.

“It’s a huge amount of resources that are being used to bring these accusations and move them forward and it’s a backward approach,” he said. “Think about the cars on the road – we shouldn’t have to recheck every license.”

Airbnb reduced the number of short-term rentals posted in Toronto by thousands after the rules went into effect. However, a review of the listings by CTV News Toronto showed hundreds of people still appeared to be breaking city rules.

Airbnb verifies that license numbers are uploaded with new listings, the company said. However, the company does not compare it to a public list of city licenses, nor does it check “exempt” claims against addresses listed as hotels.

This gap in law enforcement may explain why of the roughly 200 ads reviewed by CTV News Toronto that requested an exemption, about 40 percent did not appear to be eligible.

A group of 10 such ads appeared to be operating from an apartment building on Ferrier Avenue and the Danforth in Toronto. When CTV News Toronto visited, there appeared to be no one living there – there was no visible personal effects and no one answered the bell.

The owner of the building did not respond to inquiries. Airbnb also did not respond to email inquiries on Thursday.

However, the company accepted questions via email on Tuesday regarding around 15 ads that appeared to work in a building on Bremner Boulevard with an exemption to which building staff said they were not eligible.

By Thursday, these lists had been withdrawn.

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