Quebec tightens the rules for Airbnbs

The province has introduced stricter rules for online short-term housing rentals, in a move the tourism minister acknowledged was "long overdue."

'This regulatory modernization was long overdue in Quebec,' says Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx

Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx announced the changes to short-term rentals Wednesday in Quebec City. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC)

The Quebec government has introduced tougher regulations for online short-term housing rentals, such as Airbnb.

Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx has in the past acknowledged the rules lacked clarity. The regulations announced Wednesday are an attempt to rectify that, she said.

"This regulatory modernization was long overdue in Quebec. Collaborative hosting being a phenomenon that is here to stay, it was imperative for us to adapt the regulations quickly and effectively to this new reality," she said.

The changes are expected to go into effect this fall.

Here's a look at the key points.

New registration process

Quebecers who rent out their homes on a short-term basis (less than 31 days) will be required to obtain a registration number through the province. The registration number will be available "easily and at a reasonable cost" of between $50 and $75, according to the province.

That number will need to be included on any advertising, contract or website connected to the rental unit. 

Condo owners require approval

Condo owners will require the approval of their syndicate or condo association before renting out their home on a short-term basis. Likewise, those who are renters themselves will require the approval of their landlord.

Applies to 'primary residences'

The rules will apply to what's defined as a "primary residence," where the host normally lives. There is a different set of rules for "secondary residences," including cottages and furnished apartments. In those cases, the renter must register a more detailed form with the Corporation de l'industrie touristique du Québec, which oversees the province's tourism industry.

Far enough or too far?

Advocates for affordable housing argued the measures don't go far enough. In a statement, RCALCQ, the Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires, called for "a complete ban on tourist accommodation platforms like Airbnb to protect the rental market," or at the very least, a strict cap on the number of days a home can be rented out per year. 

For her part, Proulx said she believes the measures will help ease the pressure on the rental market. She said municipalities will have the option of putting in place additional, stricter measures, but they will also be expected to enforce them.

In a statement, Airbnb said the new rules will create "red tape, bureaucracy and needless friction" for people "who would like to rent out their cottages to visiting families or share student housing during the summer months."