Airbnb Pirates Raid City Data:
Online Scammers Jam Airbnb With Fake Listings
Mom & pop travel accommodations taken hostage. Online piracy & strong-arm tactics pollute Toronto’s $10 billion visitor economy, as hotel costs skyrocket
The City of Toronto has revealed to the trade group FairbnbHosts.ca that online pirates are raiding a city database to post fake listings on Airbnb. Toronto’s Short Term Rental (STR) officials tell FairbnbHosts.ca that city inspectors are chasing pirates in what they call a “whack-a-mole” pursuit.
- The city attempts sweeping enforcement actions to take down pirates, but pirates easily repost fake listings by re-using the permit data the city leaves unprotected. Visitors can’t be sure if they are booking a pirate space or a legal operator.
- FairbnbHosts.ca is a travel industry trade association protecting the interests of 6,100 legal Airbnb operators servicing the millions of Toronto visitors who choose authentic neighbourhood experiences vs overpriced, sterile cookie-cutter hotels.
Toronto’s 6,100 legal STR permit holders are being harmed by online piracy enabled by the City’s data handling. Legal operators are fighting $100,000 fines threatened by city audits mistakenly using data from pirate listings. The traveling public and legal operators are held hostage by erratic enforcement policies.
- Tens of thousands of legitimate visitor reservations were canceled this year for no reason. Lately, many thousands of legitimate Airbnb rooms are randomly taken off the market in a chaotic environment.
- Up to 50 percent of legal permit listings have been suddenly blocked from taking bookings, arbitrarily, with no warning and no procedural fairness.
- FairbnbHosts.ca requests the City of Toronto immediately improve the security and fairness of the permit system. (1) Stop making it easy for pirates to download all of our permit data. (2) Stop arbitrarily blocking thousands of legal rooms in sweeping enforcement takedowns.
HOTEL LOBBY STRANGLES COMPETITION
Hotel lobbyists strong-armed Toronto city council to restrict competition. Hotel oligopoly lobbyists said restricting STRs would bring more vacancies. “More vacancies” turns out to be a lie. Skyrocketing hotel prices are the truth.
- Since STR regulations began there are fewer, not more, long-term vacancies. That’s because STRs have no measurable impact on the LTR market.
- CMHC reports there are 320,000 rental units in Toronto’s LTR pool. Toronto’s 6,100 STR units are primary residences not part of the LTR pool. In any case, they represent a tiny fraction of the LTR pool. The LTR market is shaped by macroeconomic forces: Immigration, Interest rates, and Regulatory Barriers that have been choking the housing supply for decades in Toronto.
- Now, Toronto hotel prices are skyrocketing. As the city began new STR enforcement in January 2022, prices at Toronto hotels, controlled by a foreign-owned oligopoly, have increased 70% in 2022 (MTU/Ryerson study).
- The hotel oligopoly knows that STR does not impact LTR. However, the hotels know that short term rentals directly compete with the prices they can charge. Fewer STRs allow for higher hotel prices.
- Visitor spending that goes to Toronto’s mom and pop STR operators stays in the hands of Toronto locals versus the foreign hotel oligopoly. (A few foreign holding companies control almost all the hotel “brands” consumers see in the corporate illusion of competition.)