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Campaign calls for federal parties to crack down on online, short term rentals

This Aug. 21, 2018, photo shows the master bedroom of Lily Lazarus' home that she rents out through Airbnb in Houston near Bellaire. Lazarus, like a growing number of Houston area residents, earns extra money renting out two homes to visitors through websites like Airbnb.com, VRBo.com and Home Away.com. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) along with hotels, motels and resorts across Canada have called on federal parties to make changes to outdated tax laws and regulations for short-term online rentals, like Airbnb.

Currently there are 92 properties in the region listed on Airbnb, half of those are entire homes or condos.

According to a statement from HAC, the home sharing platform is now a multibillion dollar corporation that doesn’t pay taxes and share regulations the same way a hotel would.

Statistics Canada shows short-term rentals in Alberta brought in $151,929,000 in revenue in 2018, up from $8,818,000 in 2015.

Dave Kaiser, President and CEO of Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association said that could be the equivalent of 65 – 100 room hotels properties in the province and that the majority of that revenue comes from people who rent entire homes or have multiple listings.

He said the lack of regulations, along with outdated tax laws causes several unintended problems.

“We know it’s not going away. We’re used to having competition. We certainly have enough here in Alberta with the number of hotel rooms, but at the same time it’s about fair competition.”

He said the association believes that taxes should be paid at the platform level, not have the hosts have to pay it, similar to other jurisdictions.

He added that many have mentioned to him that their neighbours are constantly different, sometimes creating noise, garbage and lack of security.

“If they’ve bought a unit, then they have a neighbour – nobody‘s living there, but there’s a different guest there every night of the week because it’s on an Airbnb platform. “

General Manager of Best Western Sawridge Suites Paul Jones said safety regulations are his biggest concern.

He explained that the fire department does an annual inspection of the hotel and that weekly and monthly reports are expected as well.

On top of that there’s an inspection by the company almost every quarter.

He says, while the hotel is often at full occupancy, it’s seeing fewer long-term rentals because people can rent entire homes and condos.

The HAC, along with the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association and the Association Hôtellerie Québec has launched a campaign website, which aims to have the federal government change tax laws and regulations so that short-term rentals are treated like every other hotel, motel or resort in Canada.