Thousands of Ontario Airbnb's continued operating despite short-term rental ban

Many were on Toronto's waterfront, now a COVID-19 hotspot

Thousands of Ontario Airbnb's continued operating despite short-term rental ban

Approximately 2,800 Airbnb listings in Ontario continued to operate despite the province’s short-term rental ban between April and June, according to tenant advocacy group Fairbnb.

Many of these rental operators engaged in “high-risk activity” by hosting a large number of guests during the ban. Provincial authorities have condemned the blatant disregard of public health protocols.

“Airbnb users that are continuing to host parties in defiance of the provincial emergency orders and in defiance of the city bylaws are putting the health and safety of our neighbourhoods and our communities at risk. This is wrong, and it must stop,” said Chris Glover, MPP for Spadina-Fort York.

Majority of the violations were in condos along Toronto’s central waterfront, which Fairbnb said is now seeing a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

“An analysis of the reviews left by guests on Airbnb’s website shows that high volume [short-term rentals] operating during the ban were frequented by a series of different guests, each staying for short periods throughout the 60 days,” said JJ Fueser, researcher at Fairbnb. “We are not likely dealing workers in need of quarantine or isolation, nor travelers stuck in Toronto due to newly-imposed travel restrictions.”

Fairbnb called on the provincial government to step in and implement restrictions on Airbnb listings operating in Ontario markets hardest-hit by the pandemic.

“If there is a need for the service to house front-line workers, the company can be contacted directly to be matched with a host,” Fueser said. “This is how Airbnb acted in the UK, so why not here?”