Toronto condo owner loses $10,000 in Airbnb bookings over address mix-up

A woman trying to rent out her second bedroom says a minor address issue has caused several months of stress and lost earnings. Pat Taney reports.

By Pat Taney

A Toronto woman who was looking to rent out the second bedroom in her downtown condominium is speaking out over what she calls a very frustrating attempt to legally get it listed on Airbnb.

The troubles began last spring when Leslie Davis moved to live with her partner several hours outside of Toronto.

“Since I’m away, I decided to rent out a second bedroom in my condo to make ends meet,” she told CityNews.

Davis followed all the proper procedures, including getting approval to register her property under the City of Toronto’s short-term rental guidelines. She hired a property manager and decided to list the rental on Airbnb.

“I was told everything was good to go,” she said. “I immediately started to get bookings.”

But then, a few weeks later, her ad was taken down.

“The City of Toronto had flagged the listing as non-compliant.”

She was not told why — only that there was some inconsistency in the address on the listing.

After investigating and speaking with Airbnb support staff, they determined it was likely due to the word “street.” Her condo is on a street, but Airbnb does not abbreviate the word in listings — it is spelled out.

“So, to be aligned with the city registration, the listing must be completely identical. And the city registration uses the abbreviation ‘St.'”

After the city flagged the listing, Airbnb legally had to freeze it, causing Davis to lose around $10,000 in bookings. Airbnb staff then agreed to abbreviate the word ‘street’ and update her listing.

“We then submitted the listing to the City of Toronto with the abbreviated word and followed it up a couple of times. But as of now, the approval is still sitting with the city of Toronto,” she said. “Nobody has been able to tell me if that was the issue with my original listing.”

Davis reached out to CityNews to find answers.

“The city does not remove Airbnb listings for abbreviation issues in addresses [for example, the use of St. versus Street,]” the Office of Municipal Licensing & Standards wrote to CityNews in an email.

They would not say why this ad was removed — citing privacy concerns — but did admit the posting address had another inconsistency.

After CityNews contacted the city, an official contacted Davis to say it was because the listing did not include the word ‘unit.’

“My listing did have the proper address, with my condo unit number, but because the word ‘unit’ wasn’t included, the address was flagged as not matching what’s registered with the city, which does include the word ‘unit,'” Davis explained.

“This is such a minor issue that has caused me months of stress. I would’ve been happy to include the word ‘unit’ had I been told much earlier.”

She’s now working with the city again to get her listing back online, but this has been a costly mistake.

“I look at Airbnb as this sophisticated and remarkable app,” she said. “I’m so impressed with what they’ve done. But I’m very surprised that such a small issue was so difficult to fix or, you know, might not even have been fixed.”

Airbnb did not respond to requests for comment.

Davis said she’s also concerned this will affect her rating as a host on the web platform.

“To be a super host, you can’t have any cancellations — and I’ve already had several.”

Davis is expected to find out if her listing is compliant in a few days from now.

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