News / Toronto

Cabbagetown's Bleecker Street residents fed up with short-term rentals

Residents say five row houses on their street are being rented out on short term stay sites, operating as unregulated "ghost hotels."

Brian Kellow is upset that “ghost hotels” are operating in his residential neighbourhood on Bleecker Street.

Torstar News Service

Brian Kellow is upset that “ghost hotels” are operating in his residential neighbourhood on Bleecker Street.

Residents of a Cabbagetown neighbourhood say they’re besieged by short-term rentals and are demanding the city take action.

Shaun Moore, who has lived on Bleecker Street for almost 15 years, said five Victorian row houses are being rented on short–term rental sites, causing neighbours continuing headaches over parking, garbage and rowdy weekend parties.

“We basically have no neighbours anymore, the sense of community has dissolved,” he said.

“It leaves just these gaps, these dead zones. We have no idea who’s next door from day-to-day.”

It’s not the first complaint about so-called “ghost hotels” in Toronto.

A new coalition named Fairbnb has been calling on the city to regulate short term-rentals, especially those where multiple homes are rented out by the same owners.

Moore said the homes were advertised on Airbnb but the listings were taken down after multiple complaints. At least one is currently listed on another short-term stay site.

The owners of the five properties did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Metro. Airbnb also did not respond to a request for comment.

Moore’s neighbour, Brian Kellow, said residents have complained to both the local councillor and the city, but nothing has changed.

He’s concerned ghost hotels take housing off the market and operate without the parking, security or taxes actual hotels have.

“It’s beyond me why our city council has chosen not to take it seriously,” he said.

City spokesperson Tammy Robbinson said staff investigated complaints for zoning and noise at two of the properties but did not find any violations. There is another ongoing complaint related to zoning, she said.

Robbinson did note staff will be reporting to council in 2017 on the possibility of amending zoning bylaws to account for “temporary accommodation rental.”

Coun. Pam McConnell told Metro the city must strike a regulatory balance that prevents what are essentially hotels from operating in residential areas while still preserving the right of property owners to rent out their homes for brief periods.

“It is terribly important that the city put in place a regulatory regime to dictate how short-term rentals can be accommodated without destabilizing neighborhoods,” she said.

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