Calgary Hotel Association calls for regulations on short-term rentals

Peggy Athans, executive director of the Calgary Hotel Association, says there are about 3,700 short-term rentals listed in Calgary and regulations are needed to ensure parity.

Active Airbnb listings in Calgary have more than doubled in 3 years to about 3,700

The Calgary Hotel Association is asking the city and province to regulate short-term rentals like those arranged through Airbnb. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The association representing hotels in Calgary says short-term rental services like Airbnb put their business at a disadvantage.

Peggy Athans, executive director of the Calgary Hotel Association, says there are about 3,700 short-term rentals listed in Calgary and regulations are needed to ensure parity.

"We certainly welcome an open and free, competitive, short-term rental market," she told CBC News.

"We certainly don't want to look like we don't welcome the shared economy and the home-sharing economy because we know it's here to stay.… We just want to see regulations put in place that create a level playing field. That's really looking at those people who are renting short-term rentals over a 90-day period."

In 2015, says Athans, the city had about 1,400 active Airbnb listings, which has risen to around 3,700 listings today.

Up to 30 per cent of those are for more than 90 days, and five per cent are more than 120 days, says Athans.

"That 90-day threshold is kind of important because that's where you move from a true home sharing operation to more of a commercial operation, where you're renting out your entire home and the host isn't present, or you have multiple units and you are basically operating a hotel but you're not following any of the regulations that a hotel has to follow," she said.

Athans says short-term rentals don't pay taxes and levies that hotels do and they don't have to follow health and safety standards.

"They don't have business licences and the platform isn't collecting the tax," she said. "They're definitely not contributing to the destination marketing fee or the provincial hotel tax, the tourism levy. These are key points we have brought up with the municipality and the province."

Athans says her group is asking that Airbnb hosts have to register with the municipality

"Then taxes and fees can be collected on that activity," she said. "Any other commercial business has to do this. Right now, it's just operating under the veil of shared home rentals."

In November 2017, Coun. Ward Sutherland introduced a notice of motion, asking city officials to study the issue.

Sutherland said at the time the notice was "all encompassing" and would look at business licences, land use and safety requirements for short-term rentals and lodging houses.​

Recommendations on regulating the industry in Calgary are expected by the end of 2018.