Quebec Tackles Sharing Economy: First Uber, Now Airbnb

The Quebec government is planning to introduce new regulations for Airbnb.

The announcement, made last week, came just one day after authorities in Montreal announced they have seized 40 vehicles from UberX drivers since February. At least 30 of those seizures have come since mid-March.

Despite the timing, it doesn’t appear that this is part of a coordinated effort to crack-down on the two biggest players in the so-called sharing economy. Instead the moves seem to be separate efforts with different goals.

In Quebec, Airbnb hosts currently exist in something of a grey zone – not explicitly illegal but not covered by the province’s existing regulations that cover hotels and traditional bed and breakfast. And those regulations come with a bill.

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Hotels, guest houses, campgrounds and pretty much anywhere else where people stay on a short-term basis in Quebec are subject to a mandatory rating system and have to pay an annual fee that starts at $236.33.

While it’s not clear exactly what will be in the new rules, it seems likely that getting Airbnb hosts to pays those fees, along with hotel taxes, is going to be the main purpose of the law.

“We want them to contribute in the same way that hoteliers do,” tourism minister Dominique Vien told the Canadian Press.

For some Airbnb hosts in Quebec, it’s nothing new. One Montreal-based company that manages a number of accommodations for rent on the site has said it already pays the fees and taxes for units that are located in buildings with commercial zoning.

In a statement posted on its website, Airbnb said it supports the move.

“We welcome this news and have been having productive conversations with the government for some time on how we can work together on fair rules for home sharing. These rules should be straightforward and clear for regular people to follow, and recognize that the vast majority of Airbnb hosts only rent the homes they live in to visitors on an occasional basis.”

There has been some suggestion that the new regulations may differentiate between people who rent out their homes for less than two weeks a year and those who are renting it out every weekend.