Toronto Airbnb enforcement rules go unchanged, despite criticism

Hotel guests in Toronto to start paying 4% tax starting Sunday

A Toronto lawyer warned city councillors Thursday it will be easier to register to host an Airbnb-style short-term rental unit in Toronto than it is to acquire a residential parking permit, but councillors made no changes to their draft rules.

Jacqueleine Porter spoke to the licensing and standards committee on Thursday afternoon about the brand new regulations set to rein in the thousands of short-term rentals across the city — questioning why authorities aren't asking for more information from hosts up front.

Hosts will be restricted to listing their primary residence under the new regime, but at the outset they'll only have to declare they live at the address.

"Are you telling me that you're going to do less to protect long-term rentals in the city than you are to protect the supply of parking spaces?" Porter said.

"Because that's what it seems like."

Tracey Cook, executive director of the licensing and standards department, says the city will be able to ask any short-term rental operator for verification. That could happen after a complaint is lodged against an address, or during a random check by city officials.

Coun. Jim Karygiannis moved a motion that would, in part, require neighbours within 100 metres of a short-term rental to be notified, but that was defeated.

Although councillors didn't move to strengthen the registration rules at the committee level, there's also a chance they could when it reaches the full city council stage in December.

Complicating rules cuts into compliance, Airbnb says

Alex Dagg, Airbnb Canada's public policy manager, says the city has the right balance now and shouldn't ask would-be hosts for more.

"The more complicated you make a registration system, the less compliance you have," she told reporters.

"We think there's a big difference between applying to use publicly-shared space on a public street as compared to using your own home."

The next short-term rental debate takes place at Mayor John Tory's executive committee, where councillors are set to vote on taxation for Airbnbs as well as traditional hotels.