Tighten the screw on Airbnb | The press


PHOTOGRAPH OLIVIER PONTBRIAND, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

The Corporation de l’industrie touristique du Québec issues certificates for accommodation offered for rent on platforms such as Airbnb.

Nathalie Collard

Nathalie Collard
The press

The rules imposed on Airbnb have been stricter in Quebec for three years now, but that is clearly not enough. In recent days, a map of the island of Montreal covered in red dots from the Inside Airbnb site has been circulating on social networks. Each dot would represent a short term rental apartment. Quebec Solidarity MNA Ruba Ghazal posted this card on Twitter to challenge the Minister in charge of Housing, Andrée Laforest.

Posted at 5:00 am

Impossible to check every point on the map, but a quick visit to Airbnb is enough to see that there are a very large number of short-term rentals available in Montreal. And in the midst of a housing crisis, this causes outrage. Especially since Montreal expects a 10 to 25% increase in the number of families becoming homeless from 1 year oner July.


IMAGE FROM FACEBOOK

Every major city in the world struggles with this problem. It has gotten so bad that cities like Barcelona and New York now ban short-term rentals of less than 30 days.

Since 2019, Revenu Québec has increased powers to penalize hosts who use Airbnb for commercial purposes without a license. After all, every landlord must register and state his license number in his rental offer. Violators risk fines ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. For the year 2021-2022, Revenu Québec conducted 3,335 inspections and served 1,759 offences, resulting in 919 convictions.

The city of Montreal has also taken stricter measures. Depending on the boroughs, short-term rentals are limited to certain streets. Inspectors can file cases and the municipality will file a complaint, but according to the vice-chairman of the city’s executive committee, Benoit Dorais, who is also mayor of the Sud-Ouest, the process is long and tedious.

In reality, governments are no match for this vast undertaking. And that is not specific to the metropolis. The same problems are observed in Quebec, Trois-Rivières, Gatineau and in several holiday regions. Airbnb disrupts ecosystems and always presents a challenge to elected officials.

One of the problems is that the regulations are not complied with. All it takes is a visit to the Airbnb site to see it: few hosts post their permit numbers and there are short-term rentals everywhere, even in streets where it’s banned. As for the prices, they make you dizzy: 200, 300, 400$ per night. And they fluctuate, like Uber prices do on New Year’s Eve. An apartment renting for $233 a day on Richmond Street near Des Bassins Street in Griffintown costs $2,553 a night on weekends. end of the Formula 1 Grand Prix. We are far, very far from the original intentions of this participatory platform that allowed individuals to make ends meet by renting their apartment when they went on vacation. We are dealing with companies that use the platform too often in a tax-sheltered manner.

The harmful effects of Airbnb in communities have been documented for several years: nuisance to the neighbourhood, deterioration of neighborhood life, impact on local businesses… The press had published a very complete dossier on the matter in 2018, which remains relevant even though certain rules have been changed.

Airbnb is not only responsible for the housing crisis plaguing our cities, but it certainly contributes to it by reducing the number of properties available on the market and driving up rental costs. There are no 36,000 solutions to combat this scourge. We need more on-site inspectors to catch landlords in the act. And even higher fines are needed to discourage owners who use it for commercial purposes by circumventing the rules.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if residents said loud and clear that they no longer want these types of rental properties in their neighborhood, like the residents of Barcelona, ​​for example.

The liveability and diversity of our cities depend on it.

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