What you need to know about the city’s new proposed Airbnb rules

What you need to know about the city's new proposed Airbnb rules
Photograph by Jay Woodworth/Flickr

On Thursday, the city’s licensing and standards committee will debate a new regulatory regime for Airbnb and other short-term rental services. The proposed rules would severely limit the growth of Airbnb-like services in the city—and maybe even put a few serial Airbnbers out of business entirely. We won’t know the outcome until city council has voted on the whole package, which they will likely do at their next meeting, on December 6. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about what’s on the table.

Professional Airbnb landlords would be a thing of the past

The most sweeping potential change? A blanket ban on people Airbnb-ing homes that aren’t their “principal residences.” Under the proposed rules, if someone can’t prove they live in a house, they can’t legally rent it out for less than 28 days at a stretch.

The city plans to enforce this restriction by making every short-term landlord apply for a licence. Only people who could demonstrate that they meet the city’s requirements would get one. A few small-time operators might be able to dodge this restriction by using friends and relatives as fronts, but anyone running a large Airbnb empire would probably need to turn to the long-term rental market to make ends meet—which is probably exactly what the city’s licensing bureaucrats want.

Even part-time Airbnb landlords would have to cool it

The new bylaw would cap the number of days per year that a person could rent out their entire home at 180. But there would be no such restrictions on people who only want to rent out a few rooms in a house, or a secondary suite (like a basement apartment).

Airbnb would have to give the city a piece of the action

The city wants to start licensing short-term-booking websites. Each Airbnb-like company would have to pay a $5,000 application fee, plus an additional $1 for each night of Toronto accommodation booked through the company. This is a lot less aggressive than Seattle’s $14-per-night Airbnb tax. Toronto may decide to enact its own Airbnb tax, but we won’t know much about that until November 29th’s executive committee meeting.

Condo landlords might not see a difference

No matter what’s in the city’s bylaws, individual condo corporations have the ability to make their own rules. People whose buildings have banned short-term rentals will still have to carry out their Airbnb-ing on the sly, if at all.

Renters would still be able to Airbnb their apartments

Nothing in the city’s proposed bylaw would get in the way of someone who rents a house or apartment putting their rented home on Airbnb, for other people to rent. Anyone who wanted to do this would still need a licence, though.


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November 16, 2017

This post has been altered to include a mention of the fact that Toronto is considering an Airbnb tax.


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