Toronto's short-term rental bylaws could be delayed months over OMB appeals

The proposed city rules surrounding the use of services like Airbnb were expected to come into effect on June 1, but multiple appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board have led to a hearing scheduled for the end of August.

4 appeals being heard at August hearing, prompting concern new rules won't be implemented this summer

'We don't expect any implementation or enforcement of the city rules until sometime in 2019, unfortunately,' said Thorben Wieditz, a spokesperson with Fairbnb, a national coalition of organizations focused on establishing fair regulations for short-term rentals. (Yanjun Li/CBC News)

Hoping new Toronto bylaws would regulate short-term rentals this summer? Don't hold your breath.

The proposed city rules surrounding the use of services like Airbnb were expected to come into effect on June 1, but multiple appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board have led to a hearing scheduled for the end of August.

The new bylaws likely won't come into effect until after the OMB decision, which could come weeks or months later, CBC Toronto has learned.

That's disappointing news to Murat Usta, a tenant in a Queen's Quay building.

Usta said he's constantly dealing with noise and hallway traffic in the early morning hours thanks to short-term rental guests, and he hoped city involvement would offer people like him a new form of recourse.

"I was counting on that," he said. "In the summer, I'm expecting the problem to get worse as more people come to the city to party."

Currently, there are no rules governing short-term rentals in Toronto. But that hasn't stopped a rising number of residents from turning to home sharing services in recent years, with more and more people across the city renting around their properties "short-term," defined as less than 28 days.

New rules may not be implemented until 2019

Bylaw supporter Thorben Wieditz hoped regulations would soon help combat the "nightmare stories" he's heard from Toronto residents about fraudulent listings, so-called "ghost hotels" in heavily-rented condo towers, and the loss of long-term rental stock to home-sharing.

"We don't expect any implementation or enforcement of the city rules until sometime in 2019, unfortunately," added Wieditz, a spokesperson with Fairbnb, a national coalition of organizations focused on establishing fair regulations for short-term rentals.

The proposed city rules surrounding the use of services like Airbnb were expected to come into effect on June 1, but the implementation could be delayed for months, since multiple appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board have led to a hearing scheduled for the end of August. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

The rules, which were approved by city council last December, would allow both homeowners and tenants to host short-term rentals in their principal residences, after registering for a $50 permit. At that time, council adopted both the registration and licensing program and a new zoning bylaw permitting short-term rentals. 

Carleton Grant, director of policy and strategic support for Municipal Licensing and Standards at the city, said the zoning piece is what's being appealed at the OMB — and without the proper zoning, the licensing program can't happen.

Grant is hoping the process doesn't stretch into 2019, and said the city's lawyers have reached out to the appellants in hopes of settling prior to the August hearing.

Carleton Grant, director of policy and strategic support for Municipal Licensing and Standards at the city, says without the proper zoning, the licensing program can't happen. (Yanjun Li/CBC News)

4 appeals to Ontario Municipal Board

But those appellants say they have big concerns about the bylaw itself. In the four appellant forms submitted to the OMB, several Toronto residents described their worries about regulations preventing them from renting out multiple properties or self-contained suites.

"I'm appealing because I don't feel the city is taking my needs into account," said one of the four appellants, Clarence Westhaver.

A full-time Airbnb host, Westhaver lives in a condo in the Gay Village while owning and renting out another unit in his building.

He also owns and rents two other properties — a semi-detached in Little Italy, and a semi-detached in West Queen West — under the name Westhaver Boutique Residences.

The city's proposed regulations are "very disheartening," Westhaver said. "It puts at risk everything we're doing as entrepreneurs."

About the Author

Lauren Pelley

City Hall reporter

Lauren Pelley is a CBC reporter in Toronto covering city hall and municipal affairs. Contact her at: lauren.pelley@cbc.ca