Hosting guests/room mates in our homes as a way to help with costs is not new. However, if we don't act, condo boards may strip these homeowners' rights away. I am asking for your help, as I am heading to an arbitration process which has already cost me nearly $25,000, and can reach more than twice that amount.
Here's my story:
I am a condo owner in Toronto, who occasionally hosted guests in my second bedroom while living in my home. The condo board in my building saw a listing I had on the Airbnb platform, and considered this equal to running a rooming house, and said it was a violation of the condo rules which stipulate "short term rental" of "units" is restricted. While I understood the board's concerns regarding short term rentals of entire units, I explained at a friendly meeting with them, that mine was an entirely different situation because my guests were staying with me, under my supervision. I reasoned that I violated neither of these clauses because I am living in my unit, not leasing it out, and hosting a single guest at a time in my home does not constitute a "rooming house".
The board subsequently raised the issue again, so I requested mediation under the current Condominium Act, which they refused. Instead, they initiated legal action last June, and are billing me for their costs while threatening to put a lien on my home. This acton has caused financial strain to my family, as we have been dealing with a number of health challenges, and I am finding it increasingly difficult to assist.
At the same time, they announced a rule change to specifically ban all kinds of home sharing, in all or part of a unit which can also be interpreted to include roommates and even common law partners. This was challenged via a requisition signed by other owners, asking for a meeting to vote on the rule change. Accordingly, a meeting was scheduled, but did not meet quorum and could not proceed. Subsection 58(7) of the Condominium Act states that under these circumstances, a rule change must be approved by a vote to come into effect. Nonetheless, the Board gave a different interpretation and has enacted the new rules.
Home sharing options and are an important aspect of home ownership. Such activity is entirely legal, and under the proposed city of Toronto bylaws, one can take in a room mate, a significant other, or a temporary guest to earn extra income from their primary residence when needed.
This principle should apply to all home owners who pay property taxes, not just owners of houses. A condo owner's right to accommodate a guest, roommate, or visitor must be emphasized by the Condominium Act, and the new Condominium Authority of Ontario should make it a priority to educate boards about the difference between home sharing and short term rentals.
Since you’re living in your home, this is vastly different than renting out your entire suite short term and does not mean it’s turning into an unsupervised hotel suite.
As a homeowner and resident, you screen any guest like all other visitors and use your discretion when inviting them to stay.
Any contributions to my legal costs will not only help my situation but will be instructive in forming policy that will help condo owners throughout Ontario. Should my arbitration outcome be successful, surplus proceeds will go to a fund that protects condo owners' rights to home share.
Thank you for your support.
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