Toronto condos should update residents on short-term rental rules


Joel Berkovitz Head Shot

Toronto condominium boards should update their unit owners about the status of short-term rentals in their buildings after the city voted to regulate the practice, Toronto condominium lawyer Joel Berkovitz tells

According to a CBC report, the City of Toronto will require those renting out units on a short-term basis, on sites such as Airbnb, to register with the municipality.

“We encourage our condo clients to communicate to their unit owners how these changes are going to affect them,” says Berkovitz, a lawyer with Shibley Righton LLP. “Even if there’s no impact, condos should let their unit owners know so there's no confusion.”

The new regulations, which define short-term rentals as those lasting less than 28 days, require renters to obtain a licence. Homeowners or long-term renters are limited to offering up their primary residence and may only do so for a maximum of 180 days in a calendar year, according to the new rules, which also require licensees to meet certain identification requirements.

Berkovitz says his office has been fielding calls from concerned condo managers and directors, wondering how the new regulations will interact with their own declarations or rules on short-term rentals.

“In our view, if condos have existing rules on their books on short-term rentals, then they can be more restrictive than the city bylaw, but not more permissive,” he says.

For example, a Toronto condo that bans rentals for periods of more than 28-days would still be able to continue enforcing its rule, even though the city bylaw sets looser standards, Berkovitz explains.

However, a condo declaration that expressly allows short-term rentals is not enough to release residents from the responsibility of complying with the new city-wide regulations. Unit owners and renters in those situations will still have to get licensed, Berkovitz adds.

He says short-term rentals have become a “hot button issue” for many condo corporations in recent years, and many residents will welcome Toronto’s crackdown on sites like Airbnb.

“You have people buying condos, thinking they’re moving into a residential building where they’ll see the same neighbours every day,” Berkovitz says. “Instead, they see new people coming in, treating the place like a hotel.

“These regulations are going to limit many short-term rentals and will do away with landlords owning units to be used specifically for short-term rentals, but they will continue to allow room-sharing and renting a principal residence while the owner is out of town. I think it’s a fair compromise,” he adds.

According to Berkovitz, other municipalities will be watching closely to see how Toronto’s new regime works out.

“Many others are grappling with this issue and considering similar rules, so Toronto may well be a test case and other municipalities could adopt similar measures if these are successful,” he says.

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