For many cash-strapped young travellers, Airbnb is a welcome alternative to expensive hotels.
Especially in Toronto, getting to stay in a room with a waterfront view for a fraction of the price is a huge perk.
However, this convenience also comes with a major downside.
According to the independent website Inside Airbnb, 16 per cent of Toronto’s short-term rental listings are located in waterfront condos – the highest concentration of short-term rental listings in the city.
And of those listings, 83 per cent are for an entire unit, rather than just a spare bedroom.
So what does this mean? Essentially, Airbnb is letting tourists get access to the 6ix’s prime real estate; meanwhile, city residents are getting the short end of the stick.
These short-term rental are turning in-demand rental properties into “ghost hotels,” Fairbnb coalition member Thorben Wieditz tells Metro News.
Not only does this kill any sense of community in the condo building, it also poses a safety risk for residents. Since Airbnb hosts typically leave key fobs around for their guests to pick up, it can be difficult to tell who actually lives in the building, says Vicki Trottier, president of the Fort York Residents Association. Short-term rentals also contribute significantly to the growing housing crisis currently happening in the city, since it takes much-needed apartments off the market.
While this definitely sounds like a less-than-ideal situation for anyone looking to find an affordable apartment in Toronto, Airbnb says the circumstances are far less dire.
Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty says that Inside Airbnb’s findings don’t provide “a complete or accurate picture of the Airbnb community.”
“The vast majority of Airbnb hosts in Toronto are regular people sharing their primary residence a few nights each month in order to make ends meet,” he said. According to Airbnb, the median user in Toronto only made $5000 in 2015. He also believes that home sharing should be regulated and that they look forward to working with policymakers on the issue.
Whatever side of the debate you fall on, as Toronto housing prices continue to rise, it’s clear we need a solution sooner rather than later.