I had messaged AirBnb directly, and a kind lady in their legal department recommended I share my story on the Airbnb forums. I’m hoping to reach out to those in the community to see what sort of support I can gather.
In addition to this reddit post, let me explain my story: https://www.reddit.com/r/AirBnB/comments/3znpma/condo_board_just_sent_me_the_letter_and_i_plan_on/
I am the owner, and occupier of my condo unit in Ottawa, Ontario. Back in October 2015, the condo board changed the rules to disallow units to be used for hotel/transient purposes and leases under 3 months.
I personally began doing the Airbnb stuff around November 2014, where I rent out a room within my condo and would argue I still am within their legal guidelines. They focus on the word "unit" in the rules, whereas I am only doing a single room.
After some fumbled communications to me (one which didn’t even request I stop doing Airbnb), I responded with my stance that I was not renting a “unit”, but rather a room in my private place, which I personally feel has no legal reach. As far as I know, courts have not been successful in having individuals that live within the unit stop doing Airbnb – only fully rented units. This is akin to the Landlord & Tenant Act of Canada not applying to border/roommate situations where the landlord lives with the renter.
On December 31, 2015, I had a letter from the condo corp’s lawyers stating that I should stop, along with a $550 + HST fee attached. This is when I hired one of the top Ontario condominium lawyers to handle my case.
Usually my lawyer would tell individuals point blank if they have a case or not, but this time he seemed more optimistic and excited that I had the legal right to do so. He reviewed my Declaration and Rules, which stated that “residential units shall be occupied and used for single family residential purposes and ancillary uses”. Most Declarations in Ontario state “single family residential purposes only”. The "ancillary" uses is a broad term, which is where we would fall under. Additionally, given the new Rule prohibiting short term leases came into effect in Fall of 2015, I was grandfathered in.
I’m now being threatened with a lien for the $550 + HST. I still hold my stance that the Declaration allows short term leases, and regardless, I’d be grandfathered in, but would be willing to negotiate a grandfathering in period. My lawyer and I responded to the legal letter by their required deadline of January 18, 2016 and we’ve been since waiting to hear back. We followed up today, and my lawyer advised me I have 3 possible scenarios.
He advised going to court would be costly. At the same time, I am extremely confident in the position, and have researched numerous cases and outcomes. I would love to go to court and have a precedent set with the current situation. I think this would be beneficial to all Airbnb hosts across Canada, and more specifically in Ontario.
The only issue is costs. I’m open to funding this as much as I can myself – but I’m hoping to see what sort of support or donations I can receive from the community. If any donations want to be made, I’m happy to coordinate it and send it “in trust” to my lawyer. Any excess fees collected (or any court decision to have all my fees paid) would be returned and/or donated to a homeless shelter or whatever the community sees fit.
I’m not looking to profit off this. I took on Airbnb to continue meeting people after I had extensively travelled the world, and this was the perfect way to continue doing so from my own home.
I’m happy to answer questions and would love to hear any feedback you guys may have.
I am in Canada and have been a landlord for many years and have also been on a condo board in the past. Let me first start by saying that being on a condo board opened my eyes to how much power the board has and how little control I had as an owner. We quickly sold our condo and bought a house. Condo boards set rules and you have to follow the rules. In order for your board to "change the rules" I am assuming they needed to get a vote of the owners within the condo. Did they do this?
I admire your willingness to fight this but I do not see you getting very far. I am also not sure I can trust how you are presenting your case as I have never heard of the "Landlord & Tenant Act of Canada" as all landlord and tenancy acts are provincial in nature and not federal.
Good luck with your fight @Sachit-and-Julia0 but I think you might want to entertain options 2 or 3.
i am in France. So i have no idea of Canadian laws.
However, there is some French law which says that owners can vote any rule to manage the building but theses rules must not be contrary to the French laws.
And another law says people can rent their home (the one we live in - not second homes) for 120 days per year.
If owners vote it is not allowed to rent our home in the building, this decision would be illegal. And unenforceable.
Hi Sachit and Julia!
I own a condo so am familiar with the "rules" and regulations; I also represent a number of homeowners (as their property manager) who are also condo owners. They have all been issued letters stating that they must allow only allow rental periods for 4 months or more. They have all complied with that notice and tenants stay for those minimums. Once we met those objections, the condo boards presented new letters to state that the homeowners are no longer even allowed to advertise on AirBnB.
While their situation is different from yours, it is clear that condo boards are very fearful of AirBnB, and it is creating quite an amount of distress as some of these homeowners have had to move for employment; on short notice and have left their properties furnished so the only option open to them is an AirBnB type of arrangement.
Some of my homeowners have tried to "take on" their condo boards and simply run out of steam and energy and are now talking of selling their units.
It does seem like an uphill battle. I applaud you and hope that you can make a difference. I wonder if you approached the local news to gain traction for your story or even started a Kickstarter campaign to do some crowdfunding if that might be another way to go.
Best of luck and keep us posted on your next steps,
What surprises me the most is that Airbnb is not stepping up to the plate themselves on this issue. They are doing this in Quebec, negotiating with the provinical tourism office to allow airbnb hosts to rent rooms in their appartment or home (entire apartments/ homes excluded). It could well be that Airbnb feel that in the case of condo boards laying the rules it would be a losing battle.
We have a similar situation. My mother-in-law owns a condo in which she can only stay a few months of the year.
The HOA rules state that we are allowed to rent the condo out for 60 days at a time. We have been complying with these rules by setting a minimum amount of days on AirBnB to allow for only medium term rentals. I.e. 60 days plus.
My mother-in-law bought the condo assuming that she could rent it out for the two month (60 day period) that the HOA had set and now they want to change the minimum to 1 year stating that their reason is that AirBnB rental decrease the value of the property. I would argue the opposite, seeing many owners in that complex would consider getting rid of their condos if they are not allowed to rent them out at least part of the year. So many people rely on this income and if they are sticking to the rules then how can they just be changed whenerever someone feels like it?!!!
One thing to remember when going into battle against a condo board/body corpoate / council, they are using your money to fight you. Something to consider.
some French host was heckled at the last General Assembly.
The condo wanted to prosecute to impeach her to rent her home where she lives.
They gave up the vote to prosecute because the law is against their will.
If you have your guests sign a standard lease for the minimum period of time required by your condo association for renting your room/sharing your condo, with a built-in escape clause for the landlord/renter which can be triggered at any time, would that cover the host legally?
Hello Sachit, I'm a little late joining the converstation, but I recently received a similar notice from my condo Board. I believe that since, like you, I am merely having guests use my second bedroom and second bathroom WHILE I AM STILL LIVING IN MY SUITE, I, and you, should be allowed to do this. There is no lease in a traditional sense, no one is moving in or bringing furniture. I am a resident/owner of my two-bedroom, two bathroom unit, and I am present when I host airbnb guests.
The reason I give this information is because most of the backlash in the city of Toronto against Airbnb has been the result of entire units being rented out or used as rooming houses, resulting in unsupervised partying, disruptions, and vandalism, and many of those bookings were done using other services.
The result, however, is that there is now a crusade going on against ALL Airbnb activity in condos (and Toronto has hundreds of highrise units that could host Airbnb guests).
The property management notified me by letter that I”m violating our condo rule no 8, Tenancy Occupation paragraphs (a) and (f) which state:
a) No unit shall be occupied under a lease unless, prior to the tenant being permitted to occupy the unit, the owner shall have delivered to the Corporation a completed Tenant Information Form in accordance with Schedule 2, and an executed copy of the Application/Offer to lease and the lease itself.
(f) No owner shall permit his/her unit to be used as a rooming or boarding house. No interior bedroom door locks may be installed without the prior written consent of Property Managementy and/or the Board.
QUESTION: Does booking a short term stay via airbnb constitute a “lease”? No one is “moving in” or bringing any furniture. If this isn’t clear, then I may not be violating clause (a).
NOTE: In Toronto a “rooming house” is defined as a unit/property where more than 3 individuals live in a unit where each of their rooms has a lock, and they SHARE a kitchen and bathroom. My spare bedroom has no lock, I am renting to ONE person at a time, and they have exclusive use of a bathroom. It is therefore not correct to say I am operating a rooming house or violating clause (f) in any way. Moreover, I am present when my guests arrive, so can supervise in case any undesired conduct occurs.
Property management has agreed to have me present my case at their October 6th meeting, but management informs me they want me to cancel all my September bookings regardless. I think this is heavy handed, especially since we haven’t met yet. I also do not want to inconvenience those who have booked my room. I have had no negative experiences with any of my guests so far, and my reviews and rating indicate, I’m providing a good alternative for visitors in Toronto. I could argue that regular visitors/guests in the building have caused more problems than any of my guests booked through Airbnb.
I believe Airbnb should be proactive in the Toronto market which has a large number of highrise condominiums. We need to inform people that responsible Airbnb hosting can and should be allowed, and we need to differentiate between rentals where the owners are absent from rentals where the owners are present and can oversee any conduct that can upset other residents of a building.
I preface this by saying that I don't know a great deal about how the government is structured in Canada, but in general I assume it is not too different from Australia - with 3 levels; federal, state (provincial) and local (municipal councils). And that the three operate in a hierarchy, with federal on top and local on the bottom.
If we add in "condo boards", then in a way, they form a lowly 4th tier of sorts, coming in last in the hierarchy. So they will be unable to dictate rules which over-ride laws/regulations created by the three tiers above them.
In Australia, and again I assume there is some similarity in Canada, "zoning regulations" are mostly implemented at the local government level. These regulations detail what can and can't be done to, or within, any property inside their jurisdiction. So in most cases, it is the "local council" that implicitly decides whether Airbnb can or can't take place inside a home, by way of zoning regulations.
In one of our states recently, Victoria, the equivalent of a "condo board" in a block of units, attempted to implemented similar restrictions, by making a bylaw to stop tenancies under 3 months. In this instance an Airbnb consolidator host, managing a number of units in the block, took them to task over this rule, and it made its way right through to the Supreme Court. http://www.smh.com.au/business/property/apartment-dwellers-lose-out-as-airbnb-here-to-stay-court-rul...
In the end, the effective the ruling handed down means that - NO, an owners' corporation (condo board) does NOT have the authority to overrule or restrict the lawful use of a property, as specified in the council zoning regulations. And that all such rules by owners' corporations (condo boards) throughout Victoria are invalid and unenforceable.
Best of luck with your fight!
What has happened to this case? I am in Ottawa too and just been informed by the Board, to my great surprise, that airbnb is not permitted in the building. I see no confirmation in the Declaration, no condo by-laws, no official communications. There are several other owners in my building airbnbing their entire unit and they don't seem to have had problems.
However, I found an Ontario Superior Court case dated Dec. 2016 banning short-term rental. Here is the link: http://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/ontario-court-ruling-says-condo-buildings-can-ban-shari...
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