Toronto condo owners ‘outraged’ over new Airbnb partnership

New guidelines on short-term rentals in the ICE Condominiums have some owners upset. Melissa Nakhavoly has more on what’s causing the outrage and why the condo board says changes were necessary.

By Melissa Nakhavoly

Toronto is a top tourist destination for travellers, making short-term rentals a lucrative business for homeowners.

The ICE condominiums have become infamous for hosting short-term rentals but starting this week additional restrictions have been put in place including a booking fee surcharge as part of a new partnership between the condominium board and Airbnb.

In a letter sent to condo owners dated March 6, the condominium says Airbnb will be the exclusive short-term rental platform permitted for use by owners in ICE Condominiums. A 15-per cent fee on the total booking cost will now go towards the condominiums contingency fund to pay for capital repairs and improvements as well as additional security.

Owners say while they wanted to see a more proactive approach to improve short-term rentals in the building, they weren’t fully consulted on the changes with some calling the new restrictions unfair.

“We were appalled,” says Maria, a condo owner in the building since it opened. “We were outraged with this increase because a 15 percent tax on the STRs that is relayed to the owner is quite steep.”

“They said they would fix the issues that we had but essentially what they did is tricked us. They promised to fix it but nothing is getting fixed, things are just deteriorating and getting worse. But we’re being charged for it now.”

Officials with the condo board say the changes were made after a number of troubling incidents, noise complaints and damage caused to the building. They believe the new changes will provide more oversight to keep the condos safe.

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of our owners and our residents and our staff in the building. It’s our top priority,” condo board president Nicholas Pearson tells CityNews. “And having accountability and visibility into who’s coming into and out of our building on a transient basis is a big win for us.”

The condo board says building management will have direct access to Airbnb booking information as part of a new check-in system to ensure that guests staying at ICE Condominiums have a valid booking.

“We understood that this wasn’t going to be a universally popular decision but we felt this would improve the process, not just for the building, but we also felt it would be important for the hosts as well.”

The condo board reiterated that all existing rules and by-laws still apply, including the requirement that only unit owners who live in the building can host, and may do so only for up to 180 nights per year.

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