All Long-Term Tenants at a Montreal Apartment Building Were Replaced With an Airbnb Ghost Hotel

Zachary Kamel, Ricochet:

As part of our ongoing national investigation into platforms like Airbnb and their role in the housing crisis, we’ve been tracking and identifying the largest players in some of Canada’s hottest rental markets. These property owners and entrepreneurs operate vast networks of unlicensed, and often illegal, ghost hotels.


Until this week [Mike] Firmin was the second largest host in Montreal, offering 76 listings spread across the metropolis. Considering the data only accounts for one of many accounts connected to him, it’s possible that he was the largest host in Montreal at the time.

The “ghost hotel” nomenclature refers to an entire apartment building which is functionally a hotel because most or all units are short-term rentals instead of tenant-occupied.

Huge chunks of cities with ongoing housing affordability crises are dominated by Airbnbs; in Canada, Vancouver and Toronto are standouts. According to the data on Inside Airbnb, nearly 40% of those in Vancouver are unlicensed, and over 70% are in Toronto. We can all pretend these are mostly people who rent out a spare room, or maybe they are away and can offer their entire place, but I think we all know that is not true. There are over twenty-five thousand homes in Toronto which are Airbnbs, and over fifteen thousand of them — as of writing — have not been booked in the past year. The vast majority of these are rentals of twenty-eight days or longer because Toronto law only permits short-term rentals of someone’s primary residence. Airbnb sits between tenants and landlords in an all-too-perfect definition of rent-seeking.