Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

After weekend eviction of family by Airbnb landlord, we’re calling for a crackdown on illegal short-term rentals.

Published on June 7, 2023

This afternoon, I stood with Ning, her partner, and her neighbours in Deer Park, outside the home she was illegally evicted from this past weekend.

When Ning and her family were out on a day trip on Saturday, the landlord took the law into her own hands and hired people to change the locks and guard the house, forcing Ning and her family to frantically search for another place to stay.   Ning retrieved her belongings after she and her neighbours physically stopped the movers from transporting her belongings to a storage locker.  Upon hearing her situation, the movers stopped and helped Ning gather her belongings from the sidewalk.  

Ning’s case is fast becoming ground zero in the battle between investor-landlords who want to flout the law and make a profit, and renters who want to find a home in our unaffordable city. 

Ning and her family moved from Sweden into a short-term rental in August 2022, paying about $5000 a month to rent the home for 10 months.  The family couldn’t break into the long-term rental market, and this felt like a good backup option. 

In January 2023, things went downhill. The landlord cancelled the agreement, without Ning's permission, told Ning to leave, and immediately relisted the home on an Airbnb for double the price Ning was paying.

Ning and her family didn’t leave, and the conflict has escalated into a confrontation that came to a head this weekend.  Both the landlord and Ning have filed applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board, and everyone is waiting for the verdict.  As is typical of the Landlord and Tenant Board, the landlord has had their application heard, yet Ning is still waiting for hers’.   

The short-term rental market has wreaked havoc on our housing sector.  Short-term rentals have contributed to a rise in illegal evictions as investors have kicked out tenants to convert properties into pricey short-term rentals, increased noise complaints, and contributed to a shortage of rental properties, which is driving up rent prices.

In Toronto, there are now over 11,000 short-term rentals advertised on Airbnb that are available to rent for 28 days or more. These hosts are listing these homes for 28 days or more to avoid complying with Toronto’s new short-term rental law, which only applies to homes rented for 28 days or less. Toronto’s new law requires hosts to register with the city, pay a tax, and limit short-term rentals to their principal residence only.  

Many of these short-term rentals in investment properties are in violation of the provincial Residential Tenancies Act.  To rent these properties, a tenant does not sign the standard Ontario lease, which is required by law.  Instead, this tenant is treated like a disposable guest who can be evicted at the whim of the landlord and a click of a button.  

To return homes to the long-term rental market, the City and Ontario need to get serious and crack down on illegal short-term rentals in investment properties.   Specifically, I am calling for:

  1. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing should hire more staff to work in the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit. This is a department of bylaw officers responsible for upholding the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.  The department should quickly respond to and investigate complaints, including complaints about illegal short-term rentals, and enforce the law with fines and other enforcement actions.  Currently, the RHEU doesn’t have the resources to respond to even the most egregious cases.
  2. The Ontario government needs to quickly eliminate any chance of misinterpretation and make it clear that any person living in a home for 28 days or more is a tenant and protected by the rules in the Residential Tenancies Act.  Tenants have a right to sign a standard lease, have their home maintained, and can only be evicted by the Landlord and Tenant Board. 
  3. The Ontario government should establish a provincial short-term rental registry and restrict short-term rentals to a person’s primary residence in regions with low vacancy rates. That includes Toronto.
  4.  The City of Toronto needs to review, improve, and enforce its short-term rental law.  All short-term rentals need to be registered with the city, restricted to a person’s primary residence, and be listed for 28 days or less.  

I want Ning to get justice for her family and for the thousands of renters who are struggling to find and keep a home in our hostile housing market. 

To help more renters find homes, the City and the Province must take these steps to crack down on illegal short-term rentals and increase the availability of our long-term rental housing stock.  I encourage you to sign our action alert to join our call for justice and housing affordability.