A newly-launched national coalition that is taking aim at Airbnb plans to call on Toronto councillors to regulate online short-term rentals in the city.

Fairbnb launched on Thursday at Toronto city hall, its campaign targeting the so-called home-sharing market in Canada.

But its chairwoman said the organization doesn't want to ban Airbnb.

"We don't fault ordinary people who legally rent out a spare bedroom to help a visitor or to help pay bills," Lis Pimentel told reporters in Toronto. "However, we do believe Canadian cities must modernize their laws and enforcement so that there are fair, consistent and respectful market rules for short-term rentals."

Pimentel said vendors are renting out hundreds of homes through Airbnb, something that's creating ghost hotels alongside a regulated industry. It's also taking rental properties off the market, which are being offered on Airbnb instead, and "adding to the city's affordable housing crisis," she said.

Donna Borden

Donna Borden says Toronto has become expensive for renters and Airbnb makes it harder for people to find affordable housing. (CBC)

Pimentel said the numbers show the scale of the problem.

In May, there were 9,447 Airbnb listings in Toronto — 5,914 of which were for entire homes, she said.

"If you've been apartment hunting lately, you will know how difficult it is to find affordable housing," she said. "Having thousands of units removed each month for commercial use adds fuel to this fire."

Airbnb also cuts into the revenue of standard hotels and tourism-sector jobs, the coalition argues.

"We want to look at how other jurisdictions have responded to this crisis and learn from their successes," Pimentel said.


Fairbnb brings together property owners, advocates for affordable housing, labour unions and representatives from the regulated hotel industry. (CBC)

The high cost of rent in Toronto is already pushing low-income and middle class families out of the city, Donna Borden, a board member of the anti-poverty activist group ACORN says.

"There's nowhere for people for live," she said. "We just think that this takes away from affordable housing in Toronto."

Borden says property owners may make more money by using Airbnb and charging people daily rent.

"And I guess they figure it's less aggravating than having a monthly tenant," she said.

The coalition includes property owners, advocates for affordable housing, labour unions and representatives from the regulated hotel industry.

The coalition expects to see participants crop up in other Canadian cities as its campaign grows. For now, it says it will seek a Toronto solution to the problem in the city.