Kensington Tenants Allegedly Forced Out To Make Way for Airbnb Rentals

Landlords are turning permanent rentals into "ghost hotels"

Several tenants of apartment buildings in the heart of Kensington Market say they were forced or intimidated out by landlords, only to find their former residences listed on Airbnb.

As the city debates how landlords can operate with the popular house-sharing site Airbnb, The Star reports that for some residents the rulings will come too late.

One resident, Chris Leithead claims he was confronted by door-to-door employees of the rental company that owns his property, asking for for “illegal rent hikes” and even threatening Leithhead to move out using intimidation tactics.

Other tenants claim that their former houses were divided into smaller units after they moved out to be made into short-term rental properties.

A coalition focused on issues arising from Airbnb called, The Fairbnb Coalition say a common problem is the rise of “ghost hotels.” In this case buildings are cleared of their permanent residents to be used to short-term rentals.

Currently, the city of Toronto is reviewing the regulations put in place for Airbnb hosts. Existing bylaws prohibit landlords to turn permanent residences into “ghost hotels” and evict tenants by means of intimidation or illegal rent hikes, but there are still loopholes. Technically, a landlord may evict a tenant if they are using the property for a family member.

One of the recommendations expected set by Mayor John Tory’s committee is to add a rule where Airbnb properties can only be listed for a property where the lister is principle resident. The final draft of those recommendations are expected later this year.

For more, read The Star’s in depth report here.

 
Image courtesy Pleuntje via Flickr