September 3, 2014 6:19 pm

Looking for a place to stay during TIFF? Hotels aren’t your only option

Some Torontonians are opening their homes during TIFF and renting out rooms or the whole apartment, condo or house.

They’re getting connected online through Airbnb.

“It’s pretty simple,” said Aaron Zifkin, Country Manager of Airbnb, “Individuals just go online and create a listing profile for their space.”

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Global News

Prospective renters can look at descriptions and reviews of the location and sign up online. A letter sent out to prospective Airbnb hosts claims a person could “Earn up to $1000 a night by simply opening your doors to festival goers from around the world during the Toronto International Film Festival.”

“It really depends on the type of home you have and the location of the place,” said Zifkin.

Esther Goldlust is renting out rooms in her home during TIFF and feels safe doing so. “I feel very comfortable. I’ve been doing this for two years and I’ve had virtually no problems.”

Zifkin says transactions are done on their secure platform. Both hosts and guests are reviewed on the website. This allows each party to learn more information about the accommodation and visitor.

“All of our hosts have a guarantee. It’s called the Airbnb Host Guarantee which covers all of our hosts for up to $900,000 for any damages that occur during the time that somebody’s renting their place,” said Zifkin. “So we have full coverage.”

It is legal in Toronto to rent an apartment or home. However, if renters are interested in subletting – Airbnb suggests looking through the lease agreement carefully to see if it is allowed.

This is the first year that Airbnb is a sponsor of TIFF. Although they have been operating since 2009, this will be the first year they officially track participation numbers during TIFF.

Airbnb operates in 35,000 cities in 190 countries around the world.

Tips for travellers:

Aygelina Brogan, Travel Expert

  • Read all of the reviews, if you see an issue more than once it’s a red flag.
  • Lukewarm reviews are also a sign of people just wanting to be polite. Look for shining praise of the space and the host.
  • Ask lots of questions. Wifi may be available but is it free? Is there a cleaning fee?
  • Make sure you have the cell phone number of the host and that they are available at your arrival time (unfortunately, I once arrived in London, had issues with the key and my host was at a wedding without cell reception).
  • Ask for the address. Many spaces will say they are a 5 minute walk to transit but in reality it is 10 or 15 minutes. With the address you can use Google maps to investigate.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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