Quebec's Stricter Regulations on Airbnb and Short-Term Rentals

- Mario Conte - October 13, 2023

Quebec has implemented new and stringent rules for Airbnb and other short-term vacation rental platforms. These regulations came into full effect recently, signaling a significant change in how these platforms operate in the province. In this post, we'll explore the key aspects of these rules and what they mean for hosts and travelers.

Bill 25: An Act to Combat Illegal Tourist Accommodation

Bill 25, officially known as "An Act to fight illegal tourist accommodation," places the responsibility squarely on short-term vacation rental platforms like Airbnb to ensure that all listings in Quebec are registered with the province and that these registrations are legitimate. The primary objectives of these regulations are twofold:

Preventing Unauthorized Rentals 

One of the core aims of Bill 25 is to prohibit hosts from operating in areas where short-term rentals are banned. This measure is designed to maintain the integrity of neighborhoods and uphold the law.

Enforcing Maximum Occupancy

The legislation also mandates compliance with occupancy limits for each lodging. This ensures that the number of beds or units available aligns with the regulations set by the province.

The Need for Stricter Oversight

Quebec initially made registration of short-term rentals mandatory in 2021. However, the lack of adequate oversight led to widespread non-compliance, with some hosts resorting to using fraudulent or recycled registration numbers on their listings. Airbnb argued that it was the government's responsibility to verify registration numbers' validity, but Quebec's stance on the issue became unequivocal with the introduction of Bill 25.

Introducing Registration Certificates

Effective from September 1st, Airbnb and similar platforms are now responsible for verifying the authenticity of registration numbers. In addition to this, they must ensure that online listings prominently display a "registration certificate" with an expiry date.

These new registration certificates, issued by Quebec's tourism authority (CITQ), are more comprehensive than simple registration numbers. They include the expiry date of the certificate, the establishment's category, and the number of units within the rental property. Furthermore, hosts are now required to prominently display this certificate at their establishment's main entrance.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

The first phase of Bill 25 came into effect in June. Under these regulations, the Quebec government has the authority to impose substantial fines for non-compliance. Hosts found operating illegal listings may face fines of up to $100,000, while listings with falsified or inaccurate registration numbers could incur fines of up to $50,000. Additionally, platforms themselves must designate a Quebec representative, or they could be subject to penalties of up to $20,000.

The Urgency of These Measures

The issue of illegal Airbnb listings gained national attention in the spring of 2023 when a devastating fire in Old Montreal claimed seven lives, most of whom were staying in illegal Airbnb units. Investigations revealed safety concerns with the building, including reports of a windowless unit. Law enforcement later classified the fire as criminal, discovering traces of accelerants at the scene.

Montreal's Local Crackdown

Beyond provincial regulations, Montreal is taking its own measures to address the issue. A dedicated team is targeting illegal listings in neighborhoods like Plateau-Mont-Royal, Ville-Marie, and Sud-Ouest, where short-term rentals are prevalent despite being banned in many areas. These inspectors can issue fines ranging from $1,000 to $4,000, depending on whether the offender is an individual or a corporation. This local effort aims not only to curb unlawful listings but also to alleviate the strain that short-term rentals can place on the housing market.

In summary, Quebec's new Airbnb regulations, as outlined in Bill 25, mark a significant shift in the landscape of short-term vacation rentals in the province. With stringent penalties for non-compliance and a renewed focus on safety and legality, these measures aim to bring about greater transparency and accountability within the industry.

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