A group that pushed Toronto to regulate short-term rentals is now planning to launch its own “ethical” roommate platform with a grant from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Fairbnb says its platform, which will initially focus on downtown Toronto, will use the same technology as Airbnb to support affordable housing in the city.
“No space that could be used for long-term housing will be converted to tourist rental,” said Thorben Wieditz, spokesperson for the coalition of housing advocates, community groups, academics and hotels.
Fairbnb has argued for years that short-term rentals are undermining the city’s permanent housing stock, diverting homes to tourist accommodation. He sided with the city to win an appeal from short-term rental landlords in a 2019 provincial court. Landlords opposed the city’s short-term rental bylaw that makes it illegal to operate a business. a short-term rental that is not the owner’s primary residence.
Fairbnb’s home sharing platform is expected to be operational in March. This will be the North American entrance to Fairbnb Coop, a European website that urges travelers to ‘Pack Your Values’ and operates in cities like Barcelona, Rome and Amsterdam.
“Fairbnb Coop is well established in Europe. It is a very simple operation, similar and as simple as Airbnb. But it is controlled, owned and managed in a cooperative manner. A lot of the money stays in the community, ”Wieditz said.
Half of Fairbnb’s 14% reservation fee will go to the Kensington Market Community Land Trust, a group working to preserve affordable housing and commercial space in this neighborhood. The trust received $ 3 million from the city this year to renovate and operate around 12 affordable apartments on Kensington Avenue where tenants feared renovations – where landlords force tenants under the guise of renovating a building so they can rent the units for more money.
“It’s really exciting for us. There is a way for neighbors to rent out their rooms, as has always happened, but in a way that supports the community, ”said trust chairman Dominique Russell.
Kensington is a tourist destination and residents welcome visitors, said Serena Purdy of Friends of Kensington Market. But the short-term rental industry has displaced many artist collectives, students and people in precarious situations, she said.
“It’s hard to build that kind of community fabric – that mutual respect and that security when you can’t hold on to your neighbors and you can’t look out for each other,” Purdy said.
Weiditz said that Fairbnb Coop “brings back the notion of home sharing that got lost in Airbnb’s growth.”
Airbnb and Fairbnb Coop charge a 14% booking fee. Airbnb also charges hosts 3%. Fairbnb does not.
Wieditz says the new platform will ensure that all of its rentals meet the city’s requirement that hosts only rent rooms and houses that are their primary residence. This means that no permanent housing stock will be lost to tourist rentals, he said.
Despite the city bylaw and licensing rules, Purdy said his former neighbors have not returned. Short-term owners rent venues for just over the city’s 28-night limit for short-term rentals. People stay a few more days and move on, she said.
Fairbnb’s company is one of 16 to receive funding under CMHC’s Community Land Trusts (CLTs) and Land Collation Solutions. Fairbnb received $ 132,710.
Airbnb said it welcomes Fairbnb’s entry into short-term rentals.
“We share the belief that short-term rentals have an important role to play here in Toronto – a role we have seen first-hand as hosting on Airbnb has created vital economic opportunities for Canadians and diversified the local tourism economy, ”he said. declaration.