About the sharing economy

The sharing economy is a digital-marketplace where you can use platforms on mobile apps or web apps on the internet to rent other people's or share your own personal-use property, goods or services.

You can also rate your experience and leave reviews through the platform's online reputation system.

What consumers need to know

Before using goods or services provided through the sharing economy, you should understand your rights and ask questions. Check with the platforms and providers you're thinking about using on:

  • what protections and guarantees they offer
  • how they will help you resolve an issue if you have a bad experience

If the provider or platform can't or won't help, you can contact Consumer Protection Ontario at 416-326-8800 or toll-free at 1-800-889-9768 to learn more about your rights and file a complaint if appropriate.

Your municipality might also have rules about sharing economy platforms. Check with your municipality to see if there are any rules that may affect your use of these sharing economy platforms.

Helpful Tips

Here are some tips that might be useful to you before or while you take part in the sharing economy:

  • Do business with platforms and providers you know or that have been recommended by people you trust.
  • Do your research and find out what consumer protections the platform can provide you if something goes wrong. They may offer protections related to your safety, misrepresentation, cancellations, and refunds.
  • Review and make sure you understand both the provider's and platform's terms and conditions before making a purchase or entering into an agreement. You will likely be doing business both with someone providing the service/goods and with the platform connecting you to them.
  • Review online user ratings and comments. Not all rating systems are the same so learn how your platform's rating system works. For example, is it moderated? Can the ratings and reviews be trusted?
  • Review all costs and fees before making a purchase or entering into an agreement. Some platforms and providers charge higher rates during peak times of usage or include cancellation fees, cleaning fees, booking fees, taxes, and other extra costs.
  • If you have a concern with a purchase you've made or agreement you've entered into, bring this to the attention of the provider or platform and request that they correct the problem.
  • If you are providing personal information, including credit card information, check the company's privacy and security policy to learn about how your information is protected.

What businesses, platforms, and providers need to know

Here are some tips to help you with the sharing economy:

Communities and municipalities

Many municipalities are addressing sharing economy industries in their area. Communities should check with their municipalities for resources that will help them understand their local rights and obligations.

Municipalities can review the Home-Sharing Guide if they are considering regulating home-sharing in their communities.

The City of Guelph and the Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario released a guide, Navigating the Sharing Economy: A 6-decision Guide for Municipalities, to help municipalities:

  • understand this new economy
  • what it means on a local level
  • how to respond appropriately