Airbnb-like platforms | “Illegal” subletting would affect thousands of landlords

The largest homeowners’ association estimates that around 13,000 of its members across Quebec are struggling with tenants who unwittingly and illegally sublet their homes to Airbnb-type platforms.

Posted at 5:00 am

Luise Leduc

Luise Leduc
The press

“These rentals are done without a permit, illegally, without declaring income and without the consent of the owners,” said Marc-André Plante, director of public affairs and government relations at the Corporation of Quebec Real Estate Owners (CORPIQ).

“The apartments are often rented out for the Grand Prix week, construction holidays or Christmas,” he says.

After several phone calls from owners, CORPIQ decided to probe its members internally (on a representative sample basis but without scientific validation) to determine the extent of the problem.

Landlords are finding that their tenants often make more money in a single week than they do in a month.

Marc-André Plante, Head of Public Affairs and Government Relations at CORPIQ

Noise and housing deterioration are among the other sources of frustration for homeowners, he continues.

CORPIQ calls to action

CORPIQ calls on the government to act and calls on all political parties. “The marketing of apartments by tenants must be better monitored,” argues Mr. Plante.

Since 2020, anyone wishing to advertise their home on such a platform for periods of 31 days or less must obtain a classification certificate from the Corporation de l’industrie du Québec. In particular, applicants must provide the title deed, council tax bill or lease, proof of liability insurance of at least 2 million, a copy of the co-ownership declaration if it is a condominium, or a power of attorney from the owner if it is a condominium the Person is just a tenant.

If such requests were actually made, owners would be notified automatically. That is very often not the case, says Mr. Plante.

Plus, he continues, renting is possible in areas — including downtown Montreal — where short-term rentals are already illegal.

CORPIQ is demanding fines as high as in France, where, for example, Airbnb and a tenant were jointly and severally sentenced to pay 58,000 euros for illegal subletting.

Revenu Québec and Montreal pass the buck

Marikym Gaudreault, press secretary for the City of Montreal’s Executive Committee, emailed that the city “recommends an increase in the number of Revenu Québec inspectors for Montreal and ensuring accountability of online platforms.”

“The law that regulates Airbnb-like tourist accommodation is provincial. Revenu Québec has inspection and investigative powers in this area. The agency is responsible for deploying a sufficient number of on-site inspectors to curb illegal tourist accommodation and ensure operators pay taxes on their rental income. »

“We are very sensitive to the impact of short-term rental platforms that are damaging the rental stock,” she says, recalling that several districts in central neighborhoods have restricted commercial tourist rentals to very specific sectors.

Revenu Québec, for its part, responded by referring us to a June 28 press release. According to this, 3,812 controls in accommodation establishments were carried out from 1ah April 2021 to March 31, 2022. “These led, among other things, to the issuance of 584 warnings and 1,961 criminal charges. In addition, 1,099 convictions were obtained, totaling almost $4.3 million in fines. »

At the same time, Revenu Québec reminded citizens of their legal and fiscal obligations while emphasizing their limited powers. “An owner who complies with the tax law, for example, could be illegal in the municipality in which he is located,” the ministry emphasizes.

An article from Sun published earlier this month, mentioned the case of a citizen who, after being fined $3,700 by Revenu Québec, filed a request for access to information to find out what constituted the transmission of a criminal offense rather than a simple one warning is based.

The response: “Revenu Québec does not have a specific document regarding the rules or the parameters for sending out a warning or violation by the inspectors for the application of these laws. »

And if there is a disaster?

In the event of damage, the subletting was done without the knowledge of the owner and the tenant is not insured, what happens?

At the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Anne Morin, director of public affairs, says that “it would be necessary to verify the type of contract the owner had and the loss causing the damage to know if coverage was available. Nor would it be surprising if we invoke the responsibility of the tenant, we must also analyze the lease that binds the owner and his tenant.

In particular, she points out that household contents insurance for landlords or tenants “is not intended to cover activities of a commercial nature”.

Airbnb did not comment.

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