Airbnb rental suites are being used to break public health orders

WINNIPEG — A downtown Winnipeg condo is asking for more regulations for short term rental properties.

The Glass House at 311 Hargrave St. is a 200-suite condo in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, but for some residents, the condo is starting to feel like a hotel.

Vice president of the condo board, Sinan Leylek, said there are several Airbnb units surrounding his suite, and there’s been a steady rotation of people coming in and out to use them for short-term stays.

“When bars were closing earlier in October, people would come back and continue drinking and partying, despite orders to stay home as much as possible,” said Leylek.

Leylek said short-term renters have been responsible for multiple incidents in the building including false fire alarms, and calls to 911.

Craig Penner—another condo owner in the building—has been having similar issues.

“People refusing to wear masks coming into the building, getting into the elevator, as well as parties break out into fights that spill outside your front door,” said Penner.

Penner said the condo doesn’t have the authority to enforce public health orders.

Tuesday at an Executive Policy Committee meeting, Coun. Markus Chambers drafted a motion calling for more regulations and taxation in the short term rental industry.

“Maybe limiting (short-term rentals) to your primary residence, so that you’re not buying up multiple suites or multiple homes and running them as ghost hotels,” said Chambers.

Chambers said the motion was supported unanimously by council.

The province of Manitoba said no provincial regulations are needed under the condo act, it says the condo board has the power to create by-laws that would ban short-term rentals.

It said under the Residential Tenancies Act, a tenant or person a tenant permits into a residential complex must not engage in unlawful activity, must not damage units or the building, and must not interfere with the enjoyment of other occupants.

In a statement to CTV, a spokesperson for Airbnb said:

“Airbnb is currently the only short-term rental platform to ban parties globally and maintain a 24/7 neighbourhood support line.

“We look forward to working with the City of Winnipeg to ensure that it is able to fully benefit from the type of travel enabled by Airbnb.”

Airbnb’s policy only prohibits gatherings of 16 or more people.

Penner said reporting problem renters isn’t easy.

“Airbnb requires you to give them the specific listings on their site. It’s very hard to pinpoint the exact advertisement that is the party that we’re having an issue with,” said Penner.

Leylek believes the people who are renting Airbnb suites are more likely to break public health orders.

“These are the populations we need to be most concerned about, and they’re coming within metres from my front door,” said Leylek.

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