News / Toronto

Ghost hotels taking over Toronto Waterfront, Fairbnb coalition warns

The area has the highest concentration of Airbnb listings in the city, according to data from independent site Inside Airbnb.

Vicki Trottier, president of the Fort York Residents Association, said she first noticed an influx of Airbnb rentals in the area around last year’s Pan Am Games

Torstar News Service file / Torstar News Service Order this photo

Vicki Trottier, president of the Fort York Residents Association, said she first noticed an influx of Airbnb rentals in the area around last year’s Pan Am Games

Toronto’s waterfront is haunted by “ghost hotels” with a concentration of short-term rental listings in condo towers in the area, according to data from independent website Inside Airbnb.

The site, which scrapes data from Airbnb listings around the world, shows 16 per cent of Toronto’s Airbnb rentals are located there, the most of any neighbourhood in the city. About 83 per cent of these listings are for the entire unit, not just a spare room.

Thorben Wieditz a member of the Fairbnb coalition which advocates for regulation of short-term rental sites, said this undermines city planning efforts to build residential housing downtown, and takes much needed rentals off the market.

“They’re actually building hotels,” he said.

Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty wrote in a statement such “data scrapes” do not 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.

“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,” he added.

According to Airbnb, the median user in Toronto made $5,000 sharing their space last year, and according to a survey of users, renting rooms on Airbnb helped more than 500 Torontonians avoid foreclosure or eviction last year.

Airbnb does not have any publically available database of it’s own on Toronto rentals. Inside Airbnb has been used in cities around the world to analyze the impact of short-term rentals.

Vicki Trottier, president of the Fort York Residents Association and a condo owner in the area, said she’s concerned about how ghost hotels impact safety. It’s hard to know who’s in the building, and residents leaving key fobs around for guests to pick up.

But she also worries about the impact if it will have on the community.

“It just kind of changes the face of what it is, because it is a neighbourhood,” she said.

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