Two groups of Montreal tenants call for an Airbnb ban

The Plateau-Mont-Royal Housing Committee and the Ville-Marie Housing Committee say that current enforcement efforts are not working.

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Two tenant organizations are calling for a ban on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb.

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The Plateau-Mont-Royal Housing Committee and the Ville-Marie Housing Committee say existing efforts to regulate platforms where tourists can rent houses for short stays in the city are not working.

“Airbnb is a real problem in central neighborhoods,” said Gabrielle Renaud, community organizer at the Plateau-Mont-Royal Housing Committee.

About 5% of Plateau apartments are now listed on short-term full-time rental sites, rather than being rented to residents, according to a study commissioned by the Housing Committee and published Thursday.

“We’re talking about 1,500 to 2,000 apartments,” says Renaud. “It’s a lot.”

According to the report, the vacancy rate in the Plateau is currently around 1.5%, making it difficult for people to find housing, Renaud said.

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One of the main concerns of tenant groups is that landlords looking to increase their income are turning entire residential buildings into what are essentially hotels, evicting tenants through legal means or pushing them to leave with things like disruptive renovations.

“We have seen on avenue du Parc or Mont-Royal (Ave.) entire buildings are on Airbnb or sometimes there is only one tenant left in the building, so they no longer feel at home, they feel insecure in their home, they don’t know their neighbors, ”said Renaud.

In January, a by-law from the Plateau borough aimed at controlling this practice, by restricting short-term commercial rentals to sections of Boulevard St-Laurent. and St-Denis St., came into force.

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But Renaud said the only difference now is that landlords on other streets can no longer legally evict tenants, changing the use of their building from residential to commercial.

Airbnb has said it wants hosts to be “good neighbors”.

“Le Plateau is home to many responsible Airbnb hosts who share their primary residence a few nights each month to make ends meet. The overwhelming majority of hosts and guests are good neighbors and respectful travelers ”, Alexandra Dagg, director of public policy for Airbnb in Canada, said in an emailed statement. ” We have always advocated for fair and sound rules that balance concerns about housing affordability with the right of ordinary people to share their homes.

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Renaud said that according to his group’s research, 64% of hosts with an Airbnb listing for a property in Ville-Marie have more than one listing.

Some Airbnb hosts have listed more than a dozen apartments in Montreal, such as “Home in Montreal”, which currently has 21 listings on Airbnb.

Since June, Revenu Québec has been responsible for enforcing provincial legislation that requires Airbnb business hosts to register with the government – previously this was under the Ministry of Tourism.

Renaud said the transfer of responsibility was encouraging, but she is disappointed that Revenu Quebec has, so far, only issued warnings.

Revenu Québec’s objective is not to issue tickets, but rather to ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities, said Mathieu Boivin, director of public relations for the agency.

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Between June 12, 2018 and January 31, 2019, Revenu Québec issued 1,111 warnings, he said, and carried out 3,896 inspections related to short-term rentals.

Richard Ryan, Mile-End city councilor and chairman of the agglomeration committee that studies housing issues, says he understands why the Housing Committee is concerned about law enforcement.

Ryan has said he would also like Revenu Quebec to take tougher enforcement measures – and he met with the agency two weeks ago to discuss the matter.

Still, he said he thinks Quebec is on the right track when it comes to regulating short-term rentals, the laws that exist just need to be enforced.

“We have a lot of hope in Revenu Québec,” he declared.

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