Airbnb: in Quebec, the vast majority of ads are illegal

Airbnb:au Quebec, the vast majority of ads are illegal

In Quebec, nearly 80% of housing ads posted on the Airbnb platform are illegal, reveals a very first count made by the Regrouping of housing committees and tenant associations of Quebec (RCLALQ).

In February, the RCLALQ counted a total of 29,482 rentals offered on Airbnb for all of Quebec. Of these, 23,345 are illegal, i.e. not certified. This represents 79% of ads displayed.

Laval has the highest proportion of illegal advertisements, with a share reaching 95%.

La pointe de the iceberg

Although these figures are “worrying”, the RCLALQ specifies that they are only the tip of the iceberg. The picture is surely even bleaker considering that the data collection was carried out during the low tourist season, it is argued.

Indeed, a harvest carried out over the past few days in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie regions shows a considerable increase depending on the season: the Bas-Saint-Laurent goes from 829 rental units to 1,590 (+ 91%) and Gaspésie from 848 to 1078 (+27%). These figures are set to increase further as the tourist season approaches.

The report Airbnb excess: a rampage of Quebec's rental stock is a first: no governmental or non-governmental body, nor the Airbnb company itself, has ever published a count of the number of rentals offered on this platform throughout Quebec. 

The platform going to remedy the situation?

The Airbnb platform has taken a lot of space in the news following the fatal fire in Old Montreal that claimed the lives of seven people last week.

Since then, Airbnb has committed to removing listings for accommodations that do not have a Corporation de l'industrie touristique du Québec (CITQ) registration number, province-wide.

However, RCLALQ co-spokesperson Cédric Dussault is not convinced that the platform will regulate its announcements. “23,245: this is the number of illegal listings that Airbnb must remove in Quebec, because they do not have a registration number. Will Airbnb honor its long-term commitments? It is doubtful, considering the total disregard for laws and regulations displayed by the multinational around the world since its creation. But beyond the proportion of illegal ads, it’s the magnitude of the phenomenon itself that strikes,’ he observes.

In the wake of the fire, Quebec Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx also announced that she would “soon” amend Law 67 on short-term rentals. This amendment would require advertisers offering this type of accommodation tourist to display on the platform their tourist certification number as well as a photo of the registration certificate. Otherwise, the landlord and the platform will both receive fines.

Housings withdrawn from the market

A huge majority (90%) of rental offers are entire units and a significant proportion are rental units withdrawn from the traditional market, the report also notes. This is why the RCLALQ is demanding, among other things, that short-term rentals be prohibited in all residences.

“29,482 accommodations rented on Airbnb, it’s almost as many accommodations withdrawn from the traditional market. And there are certainly many more, because we are only talking about the Airbnb locomotive here; there are other platforms, such as VRBO or Marketplace, for displaying short-term rentals,” maintains Cédric Dussault.

However, the report shows that there is not necessarily a link between the proportion of illegal listings in an area and the hoarding of housing for short-term rental purposes. In Charlevoix, for example, 31.2% of accommodations are owned by only five hosts, but the vast majority of these units are certified and therefore legal.

“Certification does not solve everything. The heart of the problem is not illegality, but the transformation of the rental stock for tourist purposes,” continues Cédric Dussault.

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