Don’t ghost us
I lived and worked in the market. I worked at casa and a greedy landlord raised the rent and forced Ossie and Reg/ Maria out. Im sick of greedy landlords messing with buisnesses, locals and people who belong in the market. It should be for lifes to thrive, not a pop up shop or weekly stay for a tourist. No thanks.
I live a few blocks from the market and I am raising my family attached to a ghost hotel. I hate it! The house is wooden. I pay the same taxes. The people who stay there are going to party in the market and it’s a hassle for us.
I understand that there are hearings this week in regards to Kensington. Fingers crossed that you are able to make your point: AirB&B kills neighbourhoods.
I have two experiences with AirB&B, neither of them good. I live in the Beach neighbourhood (still do). I've been here for decades, raised my family and am now semi-retired. When AirB&B was a relatively new concept in Toronto, my 'make a quick buck' neighbours decided to give it a try. They didn't speak to their neighbours to let them know; they just started having a whole lot of company. There were cars coming in and out through a shared driveway at all hours of the night: the driveway and back parking pads were not well lit, so it was not unusual to wake up in the morning and find a strange car parked (or semi-abandoned) blocking the only way out. You'd be sitting in your backyard, enjoying the peace and quiet and strangers would open your gate; or holler at you looking for directions to the Beach (at midnight!). From May until November, it was a nightmare. Speaking to our neighbours did nothing: they'd rent a room, they'd rent the whole house and camp at a relative's place. There was no agreement the city and AirB&B at the time, so complaints fell on deaf ears and loss of enjoyment wasn't a priority for the police. After the second summer of hell, I figured it was a no win scenario; I decided to downsize in preparation for retirement and moved to a small, privately owned 3 story walk-up less than a 5 minute stroll down the street.
Like most buildings in the Beach, my current home is well over 100 years old. Well maintained and loved by its mature residents and an on-site superintendent, a vacant unit here was rare. Out of the 19 units in the building, over 30% have been here for 30 years, another 20% for almost 20 years and another 10% for 10+ years. Everybody knows each other, there's a real community vibe and a sense of security. This all changed in 2017 as the building's owner passed away in the spring. And in spite of his expressed wishes that his children keep and maintain his 3 or 4 apartment buildings scattered throughout the city, his children immediately put them all on the market. We were terrified that a developer would scoop up the building and we'd be out of a home. Our prayers were somewhat answered when a local company (with a dubious reputation) bought our building to add to their portfolio. We knew things would change and they did, quite quickly. Within 6 months, they fired the on-site superintendent along with their own long term maintenance staff, made some dubious changes in the basement (which has resulted in some chronic leaking around the foundation) but the worst was their total lack of care/consideration when a unit was vacated. The ground floor unit with less than 300 square feet, was suited to a single person or a couple that didn't mind tight quarters. Being such a tight knit community, we wanted to meet our new neighbours and welcome them but no one had personally seen them. The property manager advised us that they were a young couple with a toddler and frankly, we were a little concerned. (We have zero insulation in the walls and the doors are more for decoration than anything...when my neighbours fry fish on Friday, I can smell it. They're on the bottom floor, I'm on the top floor on the opposite end). But I digress. We never saw a moving van, there was no sign of a toddler (not even a sighting of toys or a stroller) but there was something else.
Within about 6 weeks, we started to see people with luggage arrive; strangers. And they certainly weren't relatives of any existing tenants. There were outside doors being wedged open, piles of cigarette butts left in the alley and right outside our front door. A constant stream of 'in and out', doors banging: no parties but certainly an increase in activity but still no sighting of a couple with a toddler. And all the activity seemed centered around this one unit. Then one day, three young men 'moved in' to this unit bringing the number of supposed tenants to 6...in less than 300 square feet. The property manager was unconcerned: kind of a who cares how many people are in there attitude. Three weeks later there was a couple of German tourists, 2 days after that an underage girl was spotted 'camping' in the hallway. It went on and on.
Multiple tenants went to the property manager and asked what was going on. We were rebuffed: they didn't care that the peace and quiet we've always enjoyed was gone. Then one night, it hit me. The unit was a short term rental! It wasn't easy to find the listing as the 'host' had shown the unit on AirB&B as being located two blocks further east but the pictures were easily identifiable. Even worse, she was a Beacher (living a block over from us) and this unit was one of several she rented out and turned into AirB&Bs in east Toronto. I took screen shots of the listing and sent them to the property manager, along with a copy of Toronto's AirB&B rules. I also sent the same info directly to AirB&B (FYI, that was 5 months ago, I'm still waiting for a response). I did hear back from our own property manager but they didn't exactly believe the evidence. So I spoke to my neighbours, showed them what I had found and collectively we applied pressure. And every time the residents in the unit changed, we contacted the property manager but we were going nowhere fast. Eventually we had made enough noise that the building's owner heard about it. And the only reason he took any action was because he didn't like the fact that someone was making money off his unit. In other words, if a tenant could pull in 5K a month while he was only getting $1500.00 then he wanted them out. Not that it was against the agreement between the city and AirB&B nor that he was duped by a woman looking to expand her empire. Nope, it was money. She was given notice and she did try to claim that she was living there but could not provide any evidence of daily living or an existing tenant to affirm that she was in residence. After a few weeks of her crying the blues, claiming her husband kicked her out and some other wild stories, the building owner ended up paying her to leave. It took 4 months but we finally have our building back.
I think we were fortunate to find a pain point that prodded the building owner to act: this tactic would be useless on a host that actually owns their building/unit. But for those hosts that are renting a unit from an owner/property management, it might just work.
Sorry for the long drawn out tale, I wish you luck at the hearings: Toronto needs rental units and long term tenants NOT ghost hotels. We have hotels a plenty and that's where visitors should be staying.