‘Here to stay’
“We’ve definitely seen our occupancy going down as it’s gaining more popularity.”
He’d like to see Airbnb hosts subjected to taxation and safety regulations that are on par with the rules in place for hotel operators.
“The concerning part is the commercial operators, so bigger apartment buildings renting out multiple floors… (or) one individual purchasing five other properties, and then it sort of becomes a multi-unit operator,” he said.
“There are accommodation industry regulations that they should be abiding by and they should be absolutely sharing their data.”
Established hotels and motels are still the preferred choice for guests wanting an added sense of security, Sandhu said.
“Your safety and security is definitely one of the main things that you get when you stay in a hotel. We have to follow a lot of building codes and fire codes, and we get inspected quite regularly,” he said.
“There needs to be a formality or consistency throughout the country.”
Advocating for change
Sandhu is not alone in expressing his desire to see a uniform method of regulation introduced in response to the increasing presence of accommodation-sharing platforms, such as Airbnb.
The Hotel Association of Canada’s website says the number of Slumber Inn owner Jaison Sandhu would like to see consistent, government-imposed regulations put in place for online short-term rental platforms, such as Airbnb, to ensure there is fair competition within the accommodation industry.
Airbnb units for rent throughout the county has nearly doubled in a two-year span.
“What started as true home sharing – where the owner is present during the guest’s stay – has expanded into a growing trend: people using these platforms to become commercial operators. This means that multiple units or whole homes are being rented out on a consistent basis. Effectively, these operators are running illegal hotels within existing residential housing,” states an article published on the hotel association website entitled “Fair Rules for the Short-term Rental Industry.”
The same article lists the poten-
‘Here to stay’
Tourism Nova Scotia spokesman Alex Handley said the accommodations sector accounts for about 15 per cent of the annual tourism revenues in Nova Scotia.
“A growing supply of affordable accommodations is key to the continued attraction of visitors and the extended stays that generate higher revenues for restaurants, retailers, transportation companies, and experience providers, which make up the remaining 85 per cent of tourism revenues,” added Handley, responding to questions via e-mail June 14.
She said about 60 per cent of the Airbnb listings are located outside of Halifax Regional Municipality, meaning rural communities are more apt to benefit from the new revenue brought in by tourists.
“These listings enable visitors to stay in communities that they may otherwise have driven through. Airbnb listings—and short-term rental listings available on other sharing economy platforms, like Booking. com and VRBO—ARE creating opportunities for smaller communities to attract more visitors to their areas,” said Handley, who noted that Nova Scotia’s tourism industry welcomed a record-setting 2.4 million visitors in 2017.
“Short-term rentals are an entirely new market segment in the accommodations sector and they
Airbnb open to ‘constructive debate’
Alex Dagg, director of public policy for Airbnb, said the company is open to engaging in conversations about regulations.
“Airbnb is committed to working with jurisdictions across Canada to develop smart, easy-to-follow regulations that support home sharing – including regulations around taxation. We have agreements in more than 350 jurisdictions globally to collect and remit hotel taxes on behalf of our hosts and guests, including in the province of Quebec and the City of Ottawa,” he said in a prepared statement June 14.
“We have been working with the province to provide information about our platform and encourage them to undertake an informed and thoughtful consultative process as they consider this issue – one where the public and policymakers get to know the full picture, which we believe is core aspect of constructive debate.”
The majority of Airbnb hosts in Nova Scotia are everyday residents renting out space in their homes to earn some extra cash, Dagg said.
“Hosts keep 97 per cent of their listing price - so that means that money is staying in hosts’ pockets to spend in their local communities.”