Airbnb "Ghost Hotels" Are The Reason Why So Many Homes Are Unrentable In Toronto Now
Toronto renters are really feeling the impact.
Neighbourhoods across Toronto have been speaking out against the negative impact Airbnb has had on their communities. A report came out recently that 66,000 homes are sitting vacant in Toronto, and people are bitter about the impact that short term vacation rentals have had on this. Affordable Toronto rentals are becoming increasingly hard to find as Airbnb "ghost hotels" are on the rise, especially in the downtown core.
The Globe and Mail reported on a study from McGill University which shed some more light on the issue. It came to the conclusion that 31,000 homes across Canada were removed from the rental market in favour of Airbnb in 2018.
Kensington Market residents have felt the issue prominently. They are definitely feeling the heat of the ghost hotel problem and have put together a website to highlight the issues they face, complete with links to Kensington Market apartments that were emptied and then started appearing on Airbnb.
The CBC reported that in 2016, 18,680 guests stayed in 464 different listings in the Kensington area. Of those listings, 248 were entire homes or apartments. Landlords have been taking over apartments for their own use in increasing numbers the past few years, and this seems to be what they are doing with the properties. Making way more bank than they would from long term tenants.
Some of the listings on Airbnb reach some insane asking prices. This beautiful short-stay room in the Garden District charges $97 per night, which over a 30-day month is $2,910 for the quaint bed and bath. This Kensington apartment is going for $376 a night, which is $11,280 a month. Even if someone didn't stay there for a full month, in just 7 days, the landlord would make $2,632 off of that property. It is a two-bedroom, one-bath short-stay that could easily be rented out to a longterm tenant. The profit margin would just be smaller.*
Then there's this short-stay Kensington studio apartment going for over $96 a night, which would equal around $2,880 a month if the place was booked out. This is way pricier than an average renter could compete with. Even a week or two of Airbnb bookings would ring in more cash than most people pay for a month's rent.*
Even short-stays on the cheaper end are expensive, coming in at around $2,000 a month for a single room. Unaffordable for renters, but plenty of visitors would pay these prices in a heartbeat, especially for just a few days' visit.*
Then there's the renoviction issue, which is another huge factor in this problem. The Toronto Star has reported an instance where a landlord evicted their longterm tenants and put the place up on Airbnb. The article discusses the issue of landlords taking on rental units for "personal use", renovating them, and put them up on Airbnb for inflated prices.
As of right now, there is no stability or regulation in sight as people continue to anticipate having to leave their current rentals by the time their lease is up.
*This article has been updated.