How to stop short-term rentals & overcrowded units

A guest column by the president of a Toronto condominium tower that sits next to a TTC subway terminal.

Short-term rentals are bad for everybody except the parasitic landlords.

It is very easy to turn the resident owners against the rooming house or Short-Term Rental (STR) operators, so you have to make sure you start your program before the whole building is overwhelmed and you still have most suites occupied by owner-residents who know about the problem and are keeping an eye out for you.

STR tenants and roomers are not protected in any way whatsoever. They can be kicked out and ripped off at any moment by the owners. We kick out unregistered people every single day. We're in a bad area for rooming houses and everybody always, always thinks that they're smarter than we are.

Our building was under siege for years.  It was constant Hell and bullshit.

You need most of these things:
It is best to have "single family residential" in your Declaration. If you don't have that, it is more difficult.
You need tough, specific corporation rules (They are easy to pass in large buildings.)
You need WARNINGS right on the status certificate request form. Also see the tab for "investors". It's pretty clear we hate them. We're not interested in pleasing bad owners and we make that clear.
Most of all, you need tough 24/7 security guards.  Management companies are useless for this purpose because they are not here 24/7 and nobody—nobody—is going to bother to explain to them what goes on during weekends, holidays and evenings.
DO NOT have the management office register new owners or tenants or you're just wasting your time. Always have security do it.  Understand that management companies WANT short-term rentals, they WANT to be the manager of all these short-term rentals, it's a good easy commission for them and gives them supreme control of the building.  I have seen management companies betray owners by acting as landlords for individual unit owners who run STRs!
Have either an involved, active board or an uninvolved, distant board.  One or the other but not both types of people on the same team
It helps to have an over-occupancy by-law but it's not mandatory.
It helps to have cameras but it's not necessary if you have security guards and door alarms. Cameras are really important for security and charge-backs, though not so necessary for STRs.
Have alarms on ground-level doors, so when somebody sneaks in, there is an audible chime.  We have found "suitcase people" hiding in our garbage/compactor room!
Make bloody sure that people have to swipe a fob to GET OUT of the building, unless there's a fire alarm. That's so important.
Alert all staff to watch for important clues and suspicious behaviour and particularly bulky garbage dumping (when STRs move out, they leave a lot of garbage) or intake from the Visitors' Parking (People who try to bring a mattress through the parking levels, etc).
Your owner register must be 100% up to date and I mean daily.
Inspect all units at least annually and before any change in ownership. Do not allow locks on doors except for the bathroom (fire precaution, tell them, and we have had fires so it's worth it for that reason alone).
Your fob and building access system must be 100% up to date and you deactivate ANYONE and EVERYONE who is not registered with the building, ON THE SPOT. You deactivate everybody that is associated with a unit—not just individual people—because you are forcing them all to come to Security at the same time to explain themselves (they don't!).
If anybody is using someone else's fob, deactivate the whole unit on the spot.
There's no bloody point in having a guard if he doesn't question people and it's too bad if "visitors" who don't speak English don't like it. They don't pay the bills around here.
You need a lease register.
you need a RO/NRO (resident owner/non-residential owner) register .
you need an OOCL register (out of country landlord), and those people can go to HELL).
Automatic door openers are the most unsafe and insecure things possible, but the Ontarians with Disabilities Act really f*d things up, really stupid and bloody dangerous in any area of town.
Do NOT allow real estate agents to function as landlords unless they have validated Power of Attorney for the unit. (Rare!)
If you don't have security, it's hopeless no matter what else you have.

I learned these techniques in the early 1980's from working in a large downtown hotel and also from working in hospitals, who aren't that great at security or safety; not from condos.

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