Ruling would force renters from sites like Airbnb to become certified, other provinces take note

Quebec has tabled a bill to regulate unregistered bed and breakfasts, such as renters on Airbnb, to help make sure those accommodations are held to proper standards. Quebec tourism minister Dominique Vien proposed Bill 67 in October.

It aims to ensure that accommodations run by users of sites like Airbnb — which is a website that allows private homeowners to rent out their homes to travellers as an alternative to hotels — operate like other hotels.

Anthony Pollard, the president of the Hotel Association of Canada, says that a bill like this would be helpful in other provinces like Alberta.

“We welcome any legislation that brings private accommodations to a level playing field,” says Pollard.

Under Bill 67, anyone who wants to rent out their homes through such a website would need a certificate from the government that allows them to operate legally as a rental accommodation. Obtaining one of these classification certificates would also make the renters eligible to be charged the provincial hospitality tax.

A tourist accommodation that is found operating without a classification certificate could be subject to a fine ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.

Gabor Forgacs, the associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, thinks it’s about time these renters become regulated.Airbnb, whose Canadian office is in Toronto, may soon see its renters face more stringent regulations in Quebec. Photo courtesy of Raysonho, Creative Commons Licensed

Forgacs says that setting some standards for accommodating renters would be helpful to protect customers in terms of safety, quality and security. An example of this would be to ensure that locks on doors are safer by using what Forgacs calls “recordable locks.”

A recordable lock is a lock that uses a passkey or tap system, rather than a traditional metal key that can be easily copied and used by a previous renter.

In Alberta, there haven’t been any moves to regulate unregistered rental accommodations. Alberta tourism minister David Eggen says he is open to discussions about similar legislation in the province, although he is still waiting for more information about the bill.

“The ministry and representatives of Travel Alberta have been meeting with the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association and the tourism industry at large to discuss and assess how alternatives like Airbnb are having an impact on their businesses,” Eggen says.

Mbenning@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Curtis Dowhaniuk and can be contacted at cdowhaniuk@cjournal.ca 

Thumbnail courtesy of Osborne House Bed and Breakfast Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed