City of Toronto among defendants in Airbnb lawsuit
City of Toronto among defendants in Airbnb lawsuit

A Toronto landlord has launched a lawsuit against her former tenant and the tenant’s boyfriend, as well as the City of Toronto and Airbnb because her downtown condo was rented out on a short-term basis with neither her knowledge nor consent.

According to Allison Rasquinha’s statement of claim, which was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last month, Michelle Nicole Carter and Jose Cornejo Kelly registered her condo to become a short-term rental with the city.

However, the condo corporation expressly forbade short-term rentals.

The statement of claim also accuses Airbnb and the City of Toronto for neglecting their responsibilities to verify whether or not the tenants were even legally permitted to rent out the condo unit.

Rasquinha is seeking $1.6 million in damages.

“The property listing has over 30 reviews and, as such, it is evident that it has been rented at least 30 times during the duration of the listing,” the lawsuit said.

Bob Aaron, a real estate lawyer with Aaron & Aaron, told True North the defendants are up to their ears.

However, Aaron is especially critical of the City of Toronto for granting a licence in the first place without undertaking basic verification processes, especially since it amended short-term rentals rules a couple of years ago.

“It would help if the city enforced the rules by verifying who they’re giving permits to. How could they give a permit to someone who’s not the owner?” Aaron said.

“For the city to give an Airbnb licence to someone whose name is not the same as on the tax rolls—it’s just a matter of a few clicks to see who gets the tax bill for any property in the city, and at the same time they issue an Airbnb licence to someone who’s the owner—I don’t understand it.”

As for Airbnb, Aaron believes the company should have a database of buildings in which short-term rentals are prohibited.

“It’s the wild west out there,” he said.

Although the condo board hasn’t been named in the lawsuit, Aaron finds it curious all these short-term rental users were able to enter the building so effortlessly when condos typically have concierges or require key fobs for entry.

The City of Toronto declined True North’s request for comment since the case is before the courts, but sent a list of its registration verification process:

  • a valid government-issued identification (ID) to show evidence of principal residence, only Ontario Driver’s Licence or Ontario Photo Card are accepted
  • contact information and address
  • name and address on the registration must match government-issued ID
  • details of the short-term rental, including description of the type of building the rental is located in and which parts of the home will be short-term rented
  • name and telephone number of an alternate (emergency) contact who will be available 24 hours a day during rental periods.

Airbnb could not be reached for comment.

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