A sword in the water

News 21 August, 2017
  • Photo AFP
    In its last budget, the Finance minister announced the setting up of a team of 25 inspectors to Revenu Québec, which séviront against operators of illegal accommodation. According to the hotel Association of the region of Québec, this change of hands should ” greatly improve the situation “.

    Elisa Cloutier

    Monday, 21 aug 2017 00:01

    Monday, 21 aug 2017 00:01

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    Even if the number of offence notices has exploded in Quebec this summer, for the guests who rent their homes illegally on AirBnb, there’s still “no risk” to appear on this platform of ” economy of sharing, according to the Corporation of property owners of Quebec (CORPIQ).

    From may to July, inclusive, 41 violation notices were issued, while the ministry had already awarded 102 in a year from April 2016 to April 2017.

    Figures which, however, did nothing to reassure the CORPIQ, who believes that the anti-Airbnb is still far from being threatening for the hosts fault.

    “It should be that there is a high risk of getting caught and as a consequence serious enough for the person to have fear, which is not currently the case,” says Hans Brouillette, director of public affairs for the Corporation of the real estate owners in Quebec.

    According to the ministry of Tourism, the operator at fault receives a notice of violation in writing. If he continues his activities, the record is then transferred to the Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) which is, itself, decides to issue or not a statement of offence. According to the DPCP, only two findings were issued between 1 may and 5 July.

    400 rooms illegal

    The addition of the 21 inspectors in April 2016, for a total of 23 on the ground, do not have more contributed to improve the timeliness of processing of complaints, according to Mr. Brouillette.

    “A tenant starts to rent his apartment for the month of may, and then, the owner notifies and reports it to the authorities who, they, take some time before you send him a notice of violation. Finally, what we were told is that we are made in September and that the tenant has finished its season, ” says he.

    Estimating to nearly 400 the number of rooms illegal in the Old Quebec, the hotel Association of the region of Québec has confidence that a good part of the problem will be resolved this fall, when Revenu Québec will take the folder in his hands.

    In its last budget, the Finance minister announced the setting up of a team of 25 inspectors to Revenu Québec, which séviront against the illegal loggers.

    The ministry of Tourism maintains, however, that the legislative work will take place in the fall to determine some of the changes to the anti-Airbnb, criticized as being too ” fuzzy “.

    The american company is still in discussions with Revenu Québec, for the purpose of imposition of tax on accommodation for bookings made on its site.

    Still too blurry

    Currently, any person who offers rented accommodation for less than 31 days, on a “regular basis” in the course of a year, must obtain a certificate of classification.

    According to Dany Papineau, nicknamed the king of quebec Airbnb for its many properties for rent, Quebec city needs to be more clear. “We have still not determined what is occasional or regular. In other places in the world, one fixes a specific number of days. Then, Airbnb is blocking your account “, he says.

    The Québecc on Airbnb

    ►Hosts : 19 400

    ►Average annual income of a host is : 2500 $

    ►Average number of nights rental per year : 30

    ►Average length of stay : 3 nights

    ►Number of passengers at Quebec city in 2016 : 821 000

    Source : Airbnb

    The tourist season boosted by Airbnb

    Even if he believes that Airbnb is “not fair” for its members, the Office of tourism of Quebec believes that the number of room nights booked through this site — if they were recorded — could do the 2017 the ” best year in tourism of all time “.

    The Office of tourism continues to intone that the tourist season is likely to be exceptional. “If we could account for the overnight stays made by Airbnb, it would be much more advanced than we are now,” says from the outset the director André Roy.

    “Nose-to-nose with 2008 “

    Up to now, ” we are nose to nose with 2008 “, the year of the 400th anniversary of the city, which had smashed all records.

    According to the Office of tourism, close to 1 200 000 room nights were sold between January and June last year, exactly the same number as for the same period in 2008.

    “We don’t have a special event so that all of the world to come to Québec as it was in 2008. So it is even more meritorious to be rendered where we are since we do not have the effect 400th, ” he says.

    Better regulation

    The latter considers, however, that the platform of economy of sharing, which is not yet ” well-framed by the law “, is not “fair” for its members.

    “What is not fair is that they [the members], they pay for marketing to promote the destination abroad and Airbnb makes that harvest the fallen fruit “, he says. “Because in the cycle of the consumer, the destination comes not evil before the place of accommodation “, he adds.

    Mr. Roy believes that Québec should accelerate the pace for better regulation the way to do it.

    “I’m not knocking the product, but there are still many things to do and, as it is here to stay, it is necessary to ensure that this is done well,” he concluded.