Despite the urging of many Councillors that basement apartments and other secondary suites be part of the program, the vote which passed 27-17 included a provision that secondary suites within a home are not eligible for short-term rental.
It was just last week we learned that Toronto’s Planning and Growth Management Committee believed that keeping Airbnbs out of basement secondary units was essential in order to increase the supply of long-term rental units. This despite the recommendation by City staff that basement units be allowed to become Airbnb-eligible under the proposed changes.
While it's true we have a rental housing vacancy problem, the answer is not to restrict short-term rentals. Council's belief that by outlawing Airbnb’s in basement suites, landlords will flock to create tenancies governed by Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act is misguided.
Becoming a residential landlord, renting out a condo, home or basement, is no longer a rational business choice. Equating renting out short-term and renting out long term is like equating an apple with an orange. No rational landlord would prefer short-term vs long-term, unless long-term was untenable. It's a lot more work to rent weekly or nightly, do the laundry, clean the unit, meet renters to hand out keys etc. But landlords are making the short-term choice because the risks are enormous for landlords in a traditional rental.
Very often the traditional rental paradigm results in an acrimonious marriage that landlords are stuck in forever. Airbnb is more like a one-night stand; easy to walk away from. What’s needed is a middle ground, allowing prospective landlords and tenants to try living together for a while to see if it works.