(Reuters) - The Toronto city council on Thursday approved regulations governing short-term rentals, requiring operators to register with the city and restricting the types of properties that homeowners can rent as it grapples with a growing affordability crisis.
Under the new rules, homeowners will only be allowed to rent their principal residence on homesharing sites like Airbnb and Expedia Inc’s Homeaway, which the city hopes will lead to more units being available for long-term rentals.
That could include listing up to three bedrooms within their principal residence, or their entire home when on vacation, for up to a total of 180 days per year.
Homeowners will be banned from listing income properties, and will not be allowed to rent out secondary suites such as self-contained dwellings within a house or on the same grounds, though long-term tenants of those suites would be able to rent their units.
The measures come as Toronto, along with major cities around the world, grapples with the effect of home sharing on tight housing supplies and an expensive rental market. Similar rules were passed in Vancouver last month.
Airbnb said it viewed Toronto regulating short-term rentals as “a win” and noted that most of its hosts were sharing their principal residence, not renting entire unoccupied units.
“At the end of the day, the vast majority of our hosts are now recognized and regulated, it’s legitimizing what they’re doing,” said Lindsey Scully, a spokesperson for Airbnb.
A spokesperson for Expedia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Housing advocates have argued that operations like Airbnb remove long-term housing stock from the market, leading to higher rents and more precarious living situations for renters.
Those in favor of such services have said they provide homeowners with flexibility to rent secondary suites and pied-à-terre units when they do not need them for personal use.
The Toronto city council voted 40-3 in favor of regulating homesharing, and 27-17 in favor of blocking secondary suites. The new rules are due to take effect in June 2018.
Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Toni Reinhold
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