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Metro answers 6 burning questions about how Airbnb regulations are changing

As Toronto looks to amend how short-term style rentals are zoned and licensed in the city, Metro examines what that might mean for users.

The city is set to change how short-term rentals are dealt with in Toronto.

Courtesy / Airbnb

The city is set to change how short-term rentals are dealt with in Toronto.

With city committees set to meet this week to discuss potential changes to Toronto's Airbnb regulations, Metro dives into how these changes would be implemented, the associated costs and the timeline for when the new laws will come into effect.

How would the changes work?

Short-term rentals would be defined as “all or part” of a home leased for 28 days or less. Both owners and tenants could rent out space, but only at their main residence.The limit would be three rooms in a home and one secondary suite. Alternatively, entire homes could be rented but only for 180 days in a calendar year.

Why are short-term rentals a big issue?

Largely because of hoarding by big commercial operators and claims that long-term renters are being squeezed out. Around 3,200 properties used on Airbnb in 2016 were not principal residences, according to the city.

Would the new rules come at a cost?

Users of sites like Airbnb would pay the city $50 a year to register. On top of a one-time $5,000 application fee, companies would have to pay the city a dollar for every night booked through their service. Scofflaws could have to pay fines of up to $100,000.Plus, "corporations cannot be operators," city guidelines say.

What does Airbnb say?

“Our host community are not professionals; these are people sharing their homes on a casual basis (and) probably don’t have accountants or lawyers,” the company's Canada policy chief Alex Dagg told Torstar News Service last week, urging Toronto to keep registration simple.

What do Airbnb’s critics say?

Thorben Wieditz of advocacy group Fairbnb said letting operators self-declare their primary residences is not enough; they should need government ID. “When we’re talking about something so big, you need proof," he said. Fairbnb is against secondary-suite rentals.  

When will the new rules be finalized?

The changes will go before relevant committees starting this week. If approved by council on Dec. 6, the new framework would start next June.

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