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Amid little short-term rental enforcement, Toronto community group books room for evidence


Frustrated about the lack of enforcement of apparently illegal short-term rental units operating in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood, a community group took matters into their own hands – and appears to have gotten results.

Zack Bradley of the Kensington Market Community Land Trust (KMCLT) says the group decided to book a suite for a night to get evidence of what they believed was a short-term rental operation breaking city rules, taking a CTV reporter inside to show the suite.

“This is 100 per cent a short-term rental,” Bradley said as he toured the suite, a two-bedroom unit that was clean and had sheets neatly folded, and didn’t appear to have a kitchen other than a small bar fridge on the ground.

Bradley took the booking and his experience inside to city staff, who told CTV News they now have an “active” investigation.

But Bradley says it shouldn’t be up to community groups to spend their own money – in this case, $228.59 – to get evidence. He thinks city officials should be out there spot-checking problem listings.

“They should be out here doing this,” he said.

Dominique Russell said that the suite on Kensington Place had rankled people in the KMCLT for some time, partly because several long-term residents had been evicted.

“There is a housing crisis. We have lost tenants. Every tenant in the city is in a precarious situation. It’s very frustrating,” Russell said.

The suite had been listed on, and showed a view of Toronto’s skyline through a window looking south from Kensington Place.

Bradley said he complained twice about the listing, without obvious results.

“It was impossible to get this thing reported,” he said. “We finally came to the realization that we need to prove that it’s a short-term rental.”

City staff said they did receive a complaint in November, and investigated to find that the operator had rented the unit as a short-term listing for over 180 nights per year.

“The operator’s short-term rental registration was revoked due to this non-compliance with the bylaw,” the city said in a statement.

Now, the city is gathering witnesses and evidence in a new investigation about operating without a permit, the statement said. Since 2021, the City said it has received five short-term rental registration applications at the property: three were denied, one was revoked, and one was cancelled by the applicant.

“Short-term rental companies, such as Airbnb and, are required to ensure that all listings on their platforms have valid registration numbers, by checking against the registration numbers published by the city on its open data platform,” the statement said.

A representative for, which is an Amsterdam-based vacation rental platform, said the operator had passed its own screens by categorizing the units as hotels, not homes, in their system.

Units in the building appear to also be listed on other platforms, including Expedia and

When CTV News called the operator, Bay Suites, the person answering the phone didn’t wish to provide a comment, but said he could also place a booking manually.

Bay Suites’ website says it has 18 listings for properties around southern Ontario.

Toronto city councillor Brad Bradford said city staff are asked to do a lot with limited resources. The city is also reviewing its short-term rental bylaws.

“We’ve got a long way to go on some of these short term rental files,” he said.

Thorben Wieditz of Fairbnb said the city should take advantage of new funding for enforcement offered by the federal government, and follow in the footsteps of Amsterdam and New York by being proactive in directly checking suites.

“The federal government is making $50 million available. If the city indeed has not enough resources to put boots on the ground they should make use of the federal fund and do exactly that,” he said.

Other tax changes are in the works to remove the ability for short-term rental operators to claim expenses against their taxes, said Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, saying that should push several suites back towards the rental pool.

“The federal government is helping. We think that’s going to create 20,30, 40,000 apartments available right away for people to rent,” Freeland said. Top Stories

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