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Emptied Kensington apartments appear on Airbnb

What remains of 38 Kensington Pl. is still accessible through a short alley, in the heart of Kensington Market.Cleansed of its graffiti and missing most, if not all of its original tenants, the low-rise building is little more than a shell of what used to be a vibrant artist and student community.Most of the renters may be gone, but tourists are welcome to spend the night in renovated portions of the old apartments through the popular home-sharing site Airbnb.“My friends and I painted these stairs,” said former tenant Chris Leithead, climbing the stairwell to view an Airbnb unit at 38 Kensington Pl., inside one of the three-storey apartment buildings where he used to live.“We ripped up the carpet on the stairs and painted it,” said Leithead, 26, a visual artist.Article Continued BelowThe Star went with Leithead to see a unit rented by a member of the Fairbnb Coalition, a group that was formed to draw attention to the impact Airbnb is having on affordable housing.A key issue for the coalition is the rise of ghost hotels — when a building is cleared of tenants so owners can rent out the apartments, creating what is essentially a hotel. Existing city bylaws do not allow landlords to arbitrarily transform permanent apartments into short-term rentals, or create pop-up hotels, but exactly how Airbnbs can operate in Toronto is under debate at city hall.

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