A blockbuster decision was released today by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) with respect to short term rentals.
What does this mean: in Toronto, short term rentals (any rental less than 28 consecutive days) are only permitted in a person’s principal residence.
The principal residence can be rented whether a person is present or away from the unit.
The City of Toronto introduced zoning by-laws in December 2017 proposed to permit and regulate short term rentals. Those by-laws were appealed, delaying the by-laws from coming into force.
The Tribunal has now dismissed the appeal, in what we expect to be a widely celebrated success for many condo corporations struggling with short term rentals.
The 40 page decision discusses a number of interesting issues and the Tribunal’s reasons behind its decision to dismiss the appeal.
The Tribunal found that the zoning by-laws “support the provincial and city policies related to housing. They maintain the integrity and stability of residential areas as neighbourhoods of residents and protect those areas from the intrusion of commercial-type accommodations that, if allowed to proliferate, would change the composition and character of the neighbourhood.”
The principal residence requirement keeps the use residential, as opposed to more commercial in nature.
There is no shortage of concerns surrounding short term rentals in condos, from nuisance, to excessive wear and tear, to safety, and to the fabric of the community.
“…the intensity of use arising from a successful, dedicated STR, with its business intention of regular turnover of STR [short term rental] customers, even if just one dwelling, operates as and exhibits a commercial use of land that changes the character of a neighbourhood. The short, temporary stay of the occupants, repeated day after day year-round results in a land use that is not residential as intended by the policy framework…”
This is great news for condo corporations struggling with short term rentals – even those with explicit permissions in the declaration permitting short term rentals.
The City of Toronto had previously approved regulations for short term rentals. These regulations are now expected to come into effect. With the zoning by-laws and the City’s new regulations in force, condo corporations will have even more tools – and some outside assistance in the form of by-law enforcement – to address short term rentals.
The Tribunal did not address whether a particular property may be shielded from the zoning by-laws as a “legal non-conforming use” (i.e. an existing use that is permitted to continue despite the new zoning by-law). This, the Tribunal said, is a matter for another forum.
More information about the implications of the zoning by-laws and steps a condo corporation should be taking to deal with short term rentals will be covered in upcoming posts.