Mul­ti­ple area homes put on Airbnb

Three short-term rental prop­er­ties crop up in Hill­crest Vil­lage

North Toronto Post - - News - –– Ge­orge Redak

The quiet res­i­den­tial street of Hume­wood Drive has been re­cently dis­rupted by the pur­chase of a a num­ber of prop­er­ties that were turned into Airbnbs. Now, neigh­bours com­plain of late-night par­ties, noise dis­tur­bances and even rat in­fes­ta­tions at neigh­bour­ing homes.

How­ever, new by­laws for short­term rentals have yet to take ef­fect in the city of Toronto, leav­ing Airbnb op­er­a­tors and their neigh­bours in a le­gal grey zone.

Lisa Sa­bato has lived on Hume­wood Drive for 23 years. Her small neigh­bour­hood has seen the ap­pear­ance of three Airbnbs over the last year. All of these prop­er­ties were pur­chased and re­main op­er­ated by one owner.

“This is not that kind of neigh­bour­hood,” said Sa­bato about Hume­wood Drive. “It is not just tourists. It is also lo­cals that just need a house to party at.”

Sa­bato is fear­ful of how Airbnbs are chang­ing her small, quiet neigh­bour­hood. She said that, soon af­ter the prop­erty owner put his sec­ond house on the rental plat­form, her neigh­bour­hood saw a change.

“There was a bach­e­lorette party where at 2 o’clock in the morn­ing they were drunk and dis­or­derly on the front lawns,” said Sa­bato.

At the house owned by the Airbnb oper­a­tor that is di­rectly next to Sa­bato’s home, other un­wanted house guests have ap­peared.

“In 23 years, we have never even seen a mouse,” she said. “I have footage of the Airbnb guests who just throw their trash [around], and rats in­fest­ing it. So now he has a rat prob­lem.”

Ss­abato’s con­cern is also shared by ward 21 coun­cil­lor Joe Mi­hevc.

“We have seen, in dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties, more in the down­town area –– not so much in the mid­town area, but some­times there as well –– Airbnb ab­so­lutely de­stroys street life and neigh­bour­hood sta­bil­ity,” he said.

The City of Toronto has yet to pass clear rules on Airbnb and other short-term rental pro­grams. Last win­ter, Toronto City Coun­cil be­gan the process, ap­prov­ing reg­u­la­tions, which, among other pro­vi­sions, would have re­quired op­er­a­tors to pay a Mu­nic­i­pal Ac­com­mo­da­tion Tax of 4 per cent, and would have re­quired op­er­a­tors to live in the prop­erty as the pri­mary res­i­dence. How­ever, af­ter the reg­u­la­tions were passed, an ap­peal was made to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board (OMB), and a hear­ing was sched­uled for Aug. 30 and 31 of this year.

Mi­hevc was un­able to iden­tify who filed the ap­peal.

“We are very strongly op­posed, as a city, to Airbnb where it is not some­one’s prin­ci­pal res­i­dence,” said Mi­hevc, cit­ing the traf­fic im­pact, po­ten­tial noise com­plaints and other pub­lic nui­sances.

A de­ci­sion from the OMB will be re­leased around eight weeks af­ter the hear­ing. Be­cause of the ap­peal process, any Airbnb that ex­ists in the city of Toronto be­fore the de­ci­sion at the OMB is fi­nal­ized is tech­ni­cally con­sid­ered il­le­gal.

The Airbnb oper­a­tor on Hume­wood, Ge­orge (who did not want his last name pub­lished), re­mains adamant that he has a right to op­er­ate Airbnbs in the prop­er­ties that he owns.

“There has never been any is­sues, never any com­plaints,” he said.

He is frus­trated by the le­gal grey zone that he now finds him­self in. He would like a le­gal right to con­tinue to op­er­ate his Airbnbs, one that in­volves pay­ing ex­tra tax in ex­change for a li­cence.

“With the ap­peals in process, it can take an­other eight weeks, min­i­mum,” said Ge­orge. “You have these peo­ple who want to pay ex­tra tax, who may need some ex­tra in­come and want to con­form to the laws, but they can’t.”

How­ever, Mi­hevc and Sa­bato are ea­ger to see tighter reg­u­la­tions on the op­er­a­tion of short-term rentals, and they want to see the reg­u­la­tions passed by coun­cil.

“So our by­law is be­fore the OMB,” said Mi­hevc. “We look for­ward to the con­clu­sion of that re­view, and we are quite con­fi­dent that our by­law will stand up.”

There was a bach­e­lorette party where at 2 o’clock in the morn­ing they were drunk on the front lawns.”

Hume­wood res­i­dent Lisa Sa­bato

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.