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Why I Hate Airbnb And They Should Go Away

It’s May 30th, and by June 1st we should have had a ruling on Airbnb in the city, but multiple appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board have led to a hearing scheduled for the end of August.

So Airbnb is still thriving, the cockroach that it is.  And it let me be frank, it is a vile pest; feeding off of a system that it gives very little back to.

Full disclosure, l’ve never used Airbnb.  When I do travel (which is slightly more than the average person), I stay in hotels or with friends.  But my lack of personal experience with the service does not invalidate my opinion as a real estate broker, a real estate investor or a traveler.  My opinion is based on industry interviews, comments from clients, and research used by municipal counsel that was used to formulate their rules.

Here’s what I hate most about airbnb:

1. In it’s most basic form, Airbnb is a short term rental solution.  And -NEWSFLASH- Toronto has a bit of a property shortage at the moment.  Airbnb depletes the rental stock.  As a real estate investor, I’m a strong advocate of an owner using a property as they see fit, with limits to serve a larger good if necessary.  At the risk of sounding off some kind of municipal protection horn, Airbnb does not serve any greater good other than a making an owner money on the backs of others.

2. Airbnb interferes with the enjoyment of neighbours.  Now this is not a NIMBY thing.  A condominium, by definition is a living style based on shared ownership of common facilities.  The owners, or their tenants which they have a rental agreement with, share the lobby, gym, pool or any other common elements with.  Your neighbour Anne didn’t sign up to work out with Rob from San Francisco here to party for the weekend.  Nor did she sign up to have Rob knock on her door at 2am to borrow a wine opener and rolling papers (true story).

3. Furthermore, we have a third party situation in the form of subleasing.  Not only do landlords bear the regulatory and financial risk, but they ultimately bear the risk of having action being taken against them by the condo corporation.  The owners, or by lease agreement, their tenants agree to abide by the rules of the condo board and everyone lives happily ever after.  Not so when the tenants sublease the apartment to a party that the landlord has never met or cannot be accountable for.  Again, we have occupants in the building that nobody is accountable for.

4. Wear and tear by airbnb guests is very different than by one owner.  Condo boards budget for what an acceptable level of wear and tear is.  The short term rental situation changes the numbers, and it changes the numbers big.  Now we have more people using the hallways, the elevators, the gym, the pool etc at a rate greater than budgeted for.  This is to say nothing of the lack of pride of ownership because these guests are here today and gone tomorrow.

5. Hotels have systems and infrastructure built in to provide security for their guests.  Cameras, controlled access, guards routinely walking the halls, housekeeping services reporting on suspicious room activity etc.  Airbnb provides no such defence to its guests, and I fear it is only a matter of time before something very bad happens in one of our condos communities.

6. I’m going to go big picture on you here.  Hotel pay licensing taxes to the province, improvement taxes to the municipality, and obviously corporate taxes to the federal government.  Airbnb takes in guests and pockets the cash bypassing hotels who invest money into their infrastructure and that of the place where they’ve set up shop.  Sure, the owners will pay HST, but it is a fraction of what hotels will pay.  As a former hotel and restaurant employee, I can understand the pain felt by the front line workers losing hours from Airbnb stealing their client base.

Airbnb – go do ranch style houses in Napa or a villas on the Algarve.  Stay out of Toronto condos.

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