Quebec cracks down on Airbnb after deadly fire

The Quebec government’s crackdown on Airbnb has upended Montreal’s short-term rental market, leading some to accept the changes and others to evade the new rules.

Last week, following a fire in Old Montreal that killed seven people, including six staying in unlicensed short-term rentals, Airbnb said it would remove illegal Quebec listings from its site. The Quebec government has said it will introduce a bill to force other platforms to do the same.

Montreal’s tourism promotion agency, Tourisme Montréal, said it welcomes Airbnb’s decision.

“At Tourisme Montréal, we often talk about being a harmonious destination; harmony takes different forms in the city, but there is no harmony when it is done illegally,” Aurélie de Blois, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an interview. “There cannot be a healthy industry if it is based on not respecting the laws.”

He said 9.5 million visitors are expected in the city this year, adding that about 20 percent of tourists in recent years stayed on short-term rentals. He said there should be enough space this season in hotels and legal short-term rentals; however, he said that prices for both types of accommodation may rise and that some tourists will have to stay in the suburbs.

Marc-Antoine Vachon, a professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal who holds the Transat chair in tourism, said he hoped the new rules would reduce the number of units on the market, but said the market would have to adapt.

“This year, in the very short term, it may be a bit more problematic, but it would be surprising if it were catastrophic,” he said, adding that it could drive up hotel prices, especially during particularly busy periods.

Dany Papineau, who has listed her home on short-term rental platforms since 2012 and set up a website for short-term cabin rentals, WeChalet, said a crackdown on unlicensed listings could prompt landlords to relocate units on the market for long-term rental. . Others can sell their cabins, he added.

But he said he’s worried the proposed law could hurt his Quebec-based company more than its international competitors, such as Airbnb and Facebook, because it will make it easier for the government to fine him for illegal listings.

Quebec’s regulations are confusing, Papineau said. They require hosts to obtain a permit, list the permit number on all advertising, and make sure their property is in an area where short-term rentals are allowed by city bylaws.

#Quebec cracks down on #Airbnb after deadly fire as some continue to evade the rules. #polqc

“It’s complicated and it keeps changing all the time, so it’s very hard for ordinary people to know how this works.”

But if the new law is applied correctly, he said, it could benefit hosts who comply. “If they find a good way to do it, of course it will create an increase in demand for people who have their legal listings, because there will be less competition for them.”

However, some hosts appear to be trying to circumvent the ban.

Murray Cox, the founder of Inside Airbnb, an independent website that tracks the platform, said that while almost all Quebec listings on the site now include a license number, it’s unclear how many of those numbers are real.

It said the number of active listings in the province with a license number increased to 2,816 on March 29 from 1,141 on March 16.

“So that’s 1,675 Airbnb listings that were suddenly able to get licensed almost overnight,” he said in an interview.

It said it found 1,519 listings with license numbers that appeared on five or more listings, including 29 listings that used the number 123456.

In total, the number of short-term rentals in Quebec listed on Airbnb has dropped by 76 percent, and the total number of listings has been cut in half. He said that he believes that most of those properties will return to the real estate market in the long term.

In an email, Airbnb said it’s up to the province to check if the registration numbers are valid. The company said that information from third-party sites that collect Airbnb data may be inaccurate, but it did not provide any data of its own.

On other short-term rental sites, and Vrbo, The Canadian Press was able to find dozens of new listings that do not include permit numbers. said it works “closely” with municipalities to ensure the rules are followed.

“If we ever learn that a property may not be operating in accordance with local regulations, we will immediately investigate and remove the property from the site,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Vrbo did not respond to requests for comment.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said it is not surprising that people are trying to circumvent the ban and that regulations will have to adapt.

“I think it’s a work in progress and getting the law strengthened to ensure that only legal owners can list on the Airbnb platform or other short-term hosting platforms is a great start,” he told reporters this week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 31, 2023.

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