Single Family Use Condo incompatible with Airbnb

February 2017

In what appears to be a precedent setting decision an Ontario court has ruled that condo corporations can ban sharing services such as Airbnb and Expedia.

The court ruled that a condo owner in an Ottawa condo building violated the “single family use” provision in the condo corporation’s declaration by making their suite available for short-term rentals on multiple websites.

Home sharing services such as Airbnb are popular because they can be financially lucrative to those offering short-term rentals. In condo buildings the offering of these services can have a negative impact on condo neighbours, liability for the condo corporation and be a commercial venture in a residential building.

According to Justice Beaudoin “‘Single family use’ cannot be interpreted to include one’s operation of a hotel-like business, with units being offered to complete strangers on the internet, on a repeated basis, for durations as short as a single night”. Single family use is not compatible with “check in” and “check out” times or with “cancellation policies”.

Family generally refers to parents, their children (natural or adopted) and other relatives living together.

Single family use provisions, which allow home office use, are common in Ontario condo corporation declarations since the 1970s. They may be ignored by condo corporations until there are problems that may include an overabundance of rental properties, overcrowding or heavy student use. It is then utilized by condo corporations to identify and deal with condo suites not in compliance with the single family use provision in governing documents for the condo corporation.

Online listings promoted the suite and the condo’s parking, exercise room, pool and common spaces. An Airbnb listing, according to the court decision, asked that guests “be discreet about mentioning Airbnb to anyone in the building.”