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Mixed results for the “Airbnb squad” in Montreal | Supervision of Airbnb in Quebec

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar15,2024

This squad lacks the tools to be effective, says the Plante administration, which is calling for better collaboration from the provincial government.

Mixed assessment for the Airbnb squad ; Montreal | Airbnb supervision in Quebec

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The municipal squad works in three Montreal boroughs, namely Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Ville-Marie and Le Sud-Ouest.

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Nearly a year after the deadly fire in Old Montreal, the City is struggling to thwart illegal tourist accommodation on platforms like Airbnb. Since the creation of a specialized squad as part of a pilot project launched last July, only 19 offense reports have been given to offenders out of a total of 42 reports drawn up by the team. 'inspectors.

In eight months, the municipal squad has carried out 394 inspections of accommodation suspected of being used illegally for tourist purposes, said Wednesday morning at a press conference, the coordinator of the pilot project, Marie-Claude. Parent. She was accompanied by the head of housing on the executive committee of the City of Montreal, Benoit Dorais, who presented the mixed results of the first months of activity of this squad.

These tickets, which vary from $1,000 to $4,000, are mostly contested by owners or tenants, said Ms. Parent. A first protest file will also be heard by the Municipal Court on April 28.

Created after the fire in the Old Montreal in March 2023, this squad made up of a coordinator and three inspectors is responsible for investigating three Montreal boroughs, namely Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Ville-Marie and Le Sud-Ouest. These sectors alone account for 60% of online advertisements for tourist residences in the metropolis.

The arson attack in Old Montreal, which claimed the lives of seven people, broke out in accommodation illegally posted on Airbnb. After this tragedy, the government of Quebec, like the City of Montreal, promised to tighten the screws on rental platforms of this type, where illegal advertisements abound.

Airbnb supervision in Quebec

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The municipal squad therefore aims to flush out offenders, enforce municipal regulations and, in a context of housing crisis, ensure that these illegal tourist residences re-enter the rental market.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">To date, the squad has made it possible to close an Airbnb type accommodation, which was put back on the rental market, indicated Marie-Claude Parent.

If the investigators carried out 394 inspections, coordinator Marie-Claude Parent broadly highlights the complexity of these investigations. Benoit Dorais also agrees, believing that the squad did not have the necessary tools to effectively carry out its mission.

In Ville-Marie, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal and Le Sud-Ouest, commercial tourist rentals are prohibited, except in certain portions of main arteries (Boulevard Saint -Laurent, rue Saint-Denis, rue Sainte-Catherine, etc.).

However, to circumvent this regulation, landlords use a well-known stratagem: they declare that the rental accommodation is their main residence, with the aim of obtaining a certificate of conformity from the Municipality.

Since last year, all Quebecers have been able to rent their primary residence for a maximum period of 30 days. To do this, they must first obtain a registration number from the Quebec Tourism Industry Corporation.

When an Airbnb type accommodation is suspected of violating municipal regulations, inspectors must demonstrate beyond any doubt that the inspected residence is not the main residence of the person renting it. It can take up to 60 to 80 pages of proof, says Parent.

Proving such a thing is difficult, admits Benoit Dorais, who deplores the lack of collaboration from Revenu Québec in this matter. Indeed, if the City of Montreal is responsible for applying its municipal regulations, since 2018 it has been the responsibility of Revenu Québec agents to enforce the Tourist Accommodation Act and to impose fines for offenders.

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Benoit Dorais, vice-president of the executive committee at the City of Montreal (Archive photo)

It is Quebec that has the powers, skills and technological tools to determine the principal residence of an individual, explains Mr. Dorais.

When the Montreal squad carries out inspections, all of the evidentiary files are then transferred to Revenu Québec. However, indicates Marie-Claude Parent, the team of investigators does not know how many files are then subject to fines issued by Revenu Québec, which can go up to $100,000. /p>

As soon as it is sent, apart from an acknowledgment of receipt, we have no results or we do not know which file led to an inspection.

A quote from Marie-Claude Parent, coordinator of the squad against illegal tourist accommodation in Montreal

To obtain more punchy results, a A mechanism for sharing information with Revenu Québec would be necessary, believes Mr. Dorais.

Revenu Québec assured Wednesday, in a written statement, that it is in constant discussions with the special squad set up by the City of Montreal.

Revenu Québec is proactive in its strategies to ensure that everyone pays their fair share. [The agency] may resort to various means, including diligently processing all complaints and denunciations received.

A quote from a written declaration from Revenu Québec

The official opposition at Montreal city hall does not quickly damaged the squad's record.

The establishment of the Airbnb squad is a good thing in itself, but It is still necessary that the City and the districts have enough inspectors to enforce the regulations, they who are already overwhelmed with cases of unsanitary housing, we write in a declaration.

Moreover, the few infraction reports submitted demonstrate the administration's inability to enforce the regulation on short-term tourist rentals.

A quote from Written Declaration of Ensemble Montréal

With information from Raphaëlle Drouin

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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