Wed. Dec 6th, 2023

“Every little helping hand goes a long way,” according to city councilor Paula Fletcher.

Short-term rentals: eagerly awaited federal boost ; Toronto

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Many cities have imposed new rules on short-term rentals, to ensure they do not monopolize housing that could be rented to residents.

  • Mirna Djukic (View profile)Mirna Djukic

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Ottawa is expected to announce new measures on Tuesday to help municipalities regulate short-term rentals, in order to tackle the housing shortage. The details of this plan and especially the financial support that should accompany it are eagerly awaited in the Queen City.

According to information obtained by Radio -Canada, Tuesday's federal economic statement will contain two measures to tackle illegal short-term rentals across the country.

The first would be a law that would prevent landlords from getting tax deductions for properties offered as short-term rentals in areas where it is prohibited.

There would also be funds to help municipalities enforce the regulations they have put in place.

I I think we were very pleasantly surprised and we think the federal government is moving in the right direction, says the director of Fairbnb Canada, Thorben Wieditz.

The number of accommodations that are transformed into ghost hotels or tourist accommodations on platforms like Airbnb or Vrbo have been a growing concern in recent years.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal have adopted regulations to tackle it.

But they lack the resources to implement them with funding and agents on the ground, says Thorben Wieditz.

The slightest helping hand is useful, says Toronto City Councilor Paula Fletcher.

In Toronto, you must obtain a permit from the City to rent a property for less than 28 days at a time. Owners must prove that it is their main personal residence, and pay municipal tax.

But we don't have many agents to enforce the rules, so it's difficult to enforce them like this. A little help hiring more would be helpful, says Paula Fletcher.

Toronto currently has nine employees responsible for enforcing short-term rental regulations. From January 2021 until September 30, they received 3,414 complaints and filed 153 charges for policy violations.

We will accept everything that the minister [Chrystia Freeland] can give us to better regulate Airbnb and keep units that should be rented long-term on the rental market.

A quote by Paula Fletcher, Toronto city councillor

She doesn't quantify her expectations.

Thorben Wieditz, for his part, believes that Ottawa's investment will have to be significant to have an impact. He claims that New York City spends more than US$6 million a year to enforce its regulations on short-term rentals.

Both also welcome the promise of a law that would prevent recalcitrant owners from receiving certain tax benefits, such as deductions for repairs or property taxes.

I think this is a case where the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. So it's about coordinating this so that no one gets a pass, comments Paula Fletcher.

The advisor believes that all levels of government must do their part to tackle this issue.

She emphasizes that Toronto's regulations only apply to properties rented for less than 28 days at a time, and that the City would need help from the province to extend them to rentals of 90 days and less.

The provincial government could do it with the stroke of a pen, she says.

British Columbia and Quebec recently passed short-term rental laws. Even if this issue falls more under provincial and municipal jurisdictions, Thorben Wieditz thinks that Ottawa could also do more on the issue.

The Canada Revenue Agency already has data on principal residences across Canada. […] Sharing data […] with governments that have records of short-term rentals could be used to identify commercial and illegal operators, he thinks.

He also believes that the federal government could legislate to hold companies like Airbnb responsible for postings that contravene regulations and laws in force across the country.

The release of the federal government's economic statement is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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