The Big Read
Marley Allen-Ash for The Logic

‘I regret buying a unit in this building’: How the rise of Airbnb turned twin Toronto condo towers into a battleground

By early last spring, it had dawned upon Rajat Sharma that his side hustle—running two short-term-rental units in a downtown Toronto condominium development—simply was not working out. 

It wasn’t just the COVID-19 pandemic, although that certainly added to his woes, given that every single one of his Airbnb bookings ended up getting cancelled. The greater, and longer-term impediment, in Sharma’s opinion, was the stream of negative publicity that these particular buildings—sleek, curvilinear twin high-rises known as the Ice Condos—kept receiving, the most high profile of which were two shooting incidents, two years apart, which media reports linked to short-term-rental units, or STRs. 

There was also a slew of maintenance problems that he blamed squarely on the property manager: broken elevators, broken light fixtures, water leakage. “Even if I wanted to, it’s hard to rent these units out now. I’ve removed my listings because I think it’s time for me to exit all of this,” he said.

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