The city’s licensing committee has sent unaltered regulations for short-term rentals like those offered through Airbnb to council for final approval.

The vote Thursday followed a planning and growth committee meeting a day earlier which added additional restrictions to the rules proposed by city staff.

With the city in the midst of an affordable housing crisis and the arrival of what’s become coined “ghost hotels” — rows of houses or entire apartment buildings rented out as investment properties through various websites like Airbnb — city staff recommended regulations for short-term rentals aimed at thwarting that kind of listing.

“We have a platform, a disruptive platform — the same thing that we had with Uber — but Airbnb and any other technologies, they’re here to stay,” said licensing committee chair Cesar Palacio on Thursday. “What has been done from our city staff, literally speaking, is bringing that sense of understanding how to move forward.”

On Wednesday, the planning and growth committee approved an additional motion from affordable housing advocate Councillor Ana Bailao that secondary suites, like a self-contained basement apartment, not be available for short-term rental.

“It is our responsibility again to strike that balance between people being able to use their property for rentals under certain conditions and the responsibility we have to maintain housing stock in the city of Toronto,” Mayor John Tory told reporters Thursday at city hall.

Tory said through staff recommendations and changes proposed Wednesday he is “confident” the city is achieving that balance.

Some speakers at the licensing committee on Thursday, including a representative of Airbnb were generally accepting of the proposed rules but expressed concern about some specifics, including a 180-night cap on some listings.


City staff recommended that restriction would be limited to those looking to rent out their entire home. Someone looking to rent out an additional bedroom could list that rental all year.

A motion from Councillor Jim Karygiannis to increase fees for operators and force them to register with government-issued identification while proving they live in the home failed to secure any votes at licensing committee, with Tory’s appointed chair Palacio urging members to reject those changes.

Much of the regulations as recommended will rely on complaint-based enforcement, some aspects of which have yet to be determined, such as with secondary suites, the head of the city’s licensing division Tracey Cook told committee Thursday.

Anyone offering short-term rentals, under the recommended rules, would be required to pay an annual $50 registration fee and provide contact information and identification deemed appropriate by Cook.

Council has the final say on the regulations, to be debated at a meeting starting Dec. 6.