Quebec eyes regulations for home-sharing services

Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky.

Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky.

By Bill Tremblay

Quebec is preparing new regulations aimed at the growing trend
of online home-sharing services.

Cynthia St-Hilaire, media officer for Quebec’s minster of
tourism, told CLN a bill is in the
worksand is scheduled for the
legislature’s viewing this fall.

If the bill were successful, Quebec would be the first
province to regulate the growing home-sharing industry.

“We will have some news probably in a few months,” St-Hilaire
said. “Around September or October, that’s our goal to have new regulations.”

Home-sharing services, like Airbnb, allow tourists to rent
rooms, apartments, or homes directly from the owner via a website. St-Hilaire
said the regulations for home-sharing services would be similar to rules in
place for traditional hotels. However, she said she is unable to elaborate on
the government’s plan as the bill is still in progress.

St-Hilaire did note the upcoming regulations are not the
result of complaints from traditional lodging companies, but she understands if
the industry is frustrated.

“They are naturally allowed to get angry about this
situation,” St. Hilaire said. “They want everybody to play with the same
rules.”

According to Airbnb, Montreal is the company’s most popular
Canadian location. In a single year, the home-sharing service claims it
generated $54.6 million in total economic activity in Montreal.

“This new generation of travellers want authentic, local
experiences in the homes of local residents,” Airbnb said in a statement on its
website.

The company said it “looks forward” to working with Quebec
to establish reasonable regulations for home-sharing operators.

“We welcome this news and have been having productive
conversations with the government for some time on how we can work together on
fair rules for home sharing,” the company said in the statement.

The home-sharing service has arranged more than 35 million
rentals in about 35,000 cities worldwide. Currently, Airbnb lists 1.2 million
properties in 190 countries.

In Montreal, most home-sharing properties are outside of the
main hotel corridor and are only available for rent on an occasional basis,
according to Airbnb.

“They are not professionals, they are regular people — and
many local residents are relying on this income to make ends meet,” the company
statement explained.

While new rules are in the works, Quebec is not without
regulations surrounding home-based rentals. Residents are prohibited from advertising
properties for rent for fewer than 31 days without obtaining a permit and
paying a $250 fee. Renting a
property without the necessary permit is punishable by a fine of $750 to $6,750.