Ontario tribunal hands down ruling in appeal of Toronto Airbnb regulations

On October 15, Ontario’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) concluded an appeal of Toronto’s short-term rental rules brought forth by landlords who charged that the almost two-year-old guidelines restrict their rights as property owners.

On Monday, LPAT delivered its decision. The city’s rules regulating short-term rentals will remain in place.

LPAT found that Toronto’s regulations provide a reasonable balance between the needs of the city’s tourist population and its cohort of renters. During the appeal, arguments against the regulations were made on the grounds that short-term rentals help fill an important gap where Toronto hotels, no longer able to handle the surging number of guests visiting the city, fall short.

The ruling comes as a blow to Toronto-area Airbnb entrepreneurs, who have been using short-term rentals as a way to greatly increase cash flow. Landlords renting out their entire properties on a nightly or weekly basis will now have to limit their short-term stays to no more than 180 days per year. Individual rooms in a landlord’s residence can be rented out with no limit.

Advocates for more stringent regulation of Airbnb have to be pleased. The ruling comes down definitively on the side of city’s residents, who have, by some estimates, 10,000 fewer properties to choose from because their status as entire-property Airbnb listings has removed them from the market. But it’s unclear just how closely the rules, first approved by Toronto city council in December 2017, will be enforced.

“Is there going to be a new department that’s going out there to make checks? Are they relying solely on complaints? Are they making the fines really high for people if the complaints do come in?” asks Sahil Jaggi, a Toronto investor and Mink Realty agent.

“There should be proper rules in place so we’re not paying more tax payer money to create a new board,” Jaggi says. “At the same time, I think there’s should be heavy fines if people aren’t following the regulations.”

Jaggi is surely not alone in that sentiment. Just how seriously Toronto’s growing number of Airbnb barons take the regulations remains to be seen.

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