Pan Am frenzy spells trouble for condo landlords

Condo owners could be in for a rough time during the Pan Am Games in Toronto if they don’t regulate short-term rentals as many tourists and other travellers are gravitating to AirBnB instead of hotels.

“There are a lot of landlords who have no idea how the impact of short-term rentals could cost them down the line,” said Davelle Morrison, a real estate agent with Bosley Real Estate Ltd.

“It violates condo rules and most of the time, landlords are unaware that this is taking place so we’ll often contact the landlord to let them know before anything serious happens.”

She added that a landlord could be on the hook for legal fees that would be included in an owner’s maintenance costs and admitted she has even seen tenants add a separate key lock on the door just for short-term rentals.

Her comments reflect a difficult reality for landlords and condo associations on the heels of the Pan Am Games as more people are flocking to AirBnB sites instead of hotels and other hospitality centres.

While some sites, like AirBnB, have insurance to cover damages, others do not, which can put the landlord on the hook for any damages incurred during the short-term rental period.

And if it’s something like water damage, landlords might be forced to sell their units to cover those damages, having to pay the condo corporation before a mortgage is paid in full. This is less of a risk for single-family landlords.

According to a recent study by the CBC, hundreds of residents have posted AirBnB ads looking to make a small fortune at rates that are sometimes more expensive than hotel rates. The survey said that more than 530 ads have been posted in the last month, including a two-storey boat on Lake Ontario.

Linda Pinizzotto, founder and president of the Condo Owners Association, said that with some tenants doing cash deals, it makes it harder for a landlord to spot as she urged owners to be more attentive.

“Landlords don’t really understand what can go wrong and tenants are taking advantage,” she said.

She also advised that landlords get tenant insurance while advising their tenants to do the same, which could help to mitigate costs.

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