Toronto’s waterfront is haunted by ghost hotels.
According the independent website Inside Airbnb, the condo communities along the lakeshore are home to the highest concentration of short-term rental listings in the city.
The site found 16 per cent of Toronto’s Airbnb listings are located on the waterfront. And of those, 83 per cent are for an entire unit, not just a spare room.
While that may be good news for tourism, advocates say it’s undermining Toronto’s quest for adequate and affordable housing downtown.
Thorben Wieditz, a member of the Fairbnb coalition, said so-called “ghost hotels” take much-needed rental properties off the market, compounding the housing crunch.
So, instead of building housing, the city is “actually building hotels,” Wieditz said.
Vicki Trottier, president of the Fort York Residents Association, said she’s concerned about the safety of short-term rentals. With residents leaving key fobs around for Airbnb guests to pick up, she said it’s hard to tell who belongs in the building.
Trottier also worries about the impact ghost hotels are having on what’s supposed to be a residential neighbourhood.
“If you bought into a home and a community and then it’s turning into a hotel, then that’s kind of like, wait a minute, what’s going on here?” she said.
Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty disputed Inside Airbnb’s findings, saying the site’s analysis doesn’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 made $5,000 in 2015. Nulty also claimed a survey of users found that revenue from short-term rentals helped 500 Torontonians avoid foreclosure or eviction last year.
“We believe that home sharing in Toronto should be regulated and we look forward to working with policymakers to support regular people trying to make ends meet,” Nulty said.
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