Short-term rental platform Airbnb announced that it is adding two new regulations to host listings in Canada.
Guests under the age of 25 no longer will be eligible to book unsupervised or “whole house” listings in their own communities. Additionally, Airbnb has promised to add a neighbourhood “hotline” to field complaints about party houses.
The limitation applies only to guests who live locally. An exception is made if the person has earned three positive reviews for previous Airbnb rentals.
The move comes after three people were killed at an Airbnb listing in Toronto.
Late last year, Airbnb promised to address growing concerns over whole-house rentals after another fatal shooting that occurred at an overnight Airbnb listing in California. Police in other cities have warned communities about the risks posed by these party houses.
Shortly after the Toronto shooting, an Airbnb spokesperson announced the new measures. He indicated that, while nothing is “infallible”, the company’s research indicates that most party houses are rented by young persons. He also said that the new restrictions go beyond the latest rental regulations passed by Toronto lawmakers, which limit short-term rentals to primary residences only. The Toronto rules currently are being appealed.
Airbnb’s announcement sparked some controversy, with opponents arguing that “de-listing” commercial properties would be a better way to regulate party houses. Airbnb’s spokesman indicated that the company would wait for the outcome of any pending appeals before addressing Toronto’s regulations. However, Airbnb has included the proposed regulations on its website for Toronto hosts.
A common issue that arises with Airbnb listings is complaints from neighbours, typically over noise. The company has indicated that it will provide a phone number on its website to handle such complaints. To date, that phone number is not easy to locate. It appears that urgent complaints will be referred out to law enforcement, while others will be handled via an email notification to the host. Airbnb warns those making complaints that “reporting false cases may result in local administrative or criminal penalties.”
An issue that has not yet been addressed is whether Airbnb’s age limitation violates the Human Rights Code and its prohibition against age discrimination. While those rules may not apply to overnight rentals, landlords who act on Airbnb’s statistical data and apply a blanket ban on long-term rental applicants under the age of 25 might violate the Code. Before implementing any such tenant screening restrictions based on age, private landlords should consult with an attorney.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.