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Toronto man says landlord evicting him to rent unit on Airbnb

The landlord says he just wants to move it. The case will be heard at the Landlord and Tenant Board in November.

Ron Campagna is fighting his eviction at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, because he believes his landlord intends to turn his unit into an Airbnb rental. There’s already an active Airbnb listing for another unit in the same building.

Eduardo Lima/Metro / Metro Order this photo

Ron Campagna is fighting his eviction at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, because he believes his landlord intends to turn his unit into an Airbnb rental. There’s already an active Airbnb listing for another unit in the same building.

A Toronto man is fighting eviction from his apartment, accusing the landlord of trying to turn his suite into an Airbnb rental.

Short-term rentals are a looming issue in the Toronto housing market, and advocates say they’ll be watching the case closely when it goes to the Landlord and Tenant Board in November.

Ron Campagna and his wife were served with an eviction notice late this summer, indicating their landlord’s son wanted to take back their Spadina Avenue apartment.

They were given 60 days to find a new place to live.

Campagna believes the landlord wants to turn his apartment into an Airbnb rental. Another unit in the same building was recently renovated and listed on the site.

“It’s just not right,” Campagna said. “They’re just skirting a law right now that’s a real grey area and getting away with it.”

The couple is still living in the unit. Campagna said he wanted to go public with their story because he believes the same thing may be happening to others in Toronto.

Reached by Metro, Campagna’s landlord, Viet Nguyen, denied he planned to use the unit for Airbnb and said he plans to move in.

“We are currently renting out one unit as an Airbnb listing, but that was first-time trial. It’s only been up for about three months," he said.

Kenneth Hale, a legal director of the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, could not comment on the specifics of  Campagna's case, but said the “personal use” eviction – known as an “N12” – has long been open to misuse by landlords.

“Now Airbnb has just created another financial incentive to abuse this section,” he said.

Airbnb spokesperson Christopher Nulty said the company opposes evicting tenants to list a property through their service.

Airbnb is working with the city to develop “sensible” regulations around home sharing that reflect that principle, Nulty wrote in an email.

Landlord and Tenant Board spokeswoman Whitney Miller said there’s no way to track whether evictions are related to Airbnb rentals, and could not comment on whether Campagna’s is the first such case in Toronto.

Advocates call for closer scrutiny of evictions

Under Ontario law, landlords can evict tenants for “personal use,” meaning they or their family is moving in. Tenants can fight the eviction, known as an “N12,” by arguing that it was done in “bad faith.”

But it’s impossible to know how many people across Toronto have been handed N12 notices because the Landlord and Tenant Board doesn’t collect data on them.

In Hamilton, Coun. Matthew Green has noticed an uptick in constituents reporting their landlords serving N12 notices as property values – and rents – in the city rise.

“They don’t upgrade they don’t do anything they just jack the prices up and re-rent it out to people,” he told Metro.

Because N12 notices are not filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, Green says it’s hard to get a handle on just how widespread the problem is.

“The vast majority of evictions go unchallenged,” he said.

Only cases where the tenant refuses to leave, forcing the landlord to appeal to the Landlord and Tenant Board, are counted. According to the board, 7,983 applications to terminate tenancies for reasons other than unpaid rent were made between 2014 and 2015.

In Toronto, city councillors are set to debate a proposal to licence landlords this fall.

For tenant advocate Hale, a landlord registry could help get the number of evictions in the city on the record.

“The landlord’s own use provisions are really just based on the word of the landlord … and there’s nobody supervising that,” he said.

May Warren can be reached at may.warren@metronews.ca

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