It's up to the government to verify compliance of listings, Airbnb says
Airbnb says it's ready to remove all offers of illegal lodging on its site, but the company says it's the government's responsibility to check offers for compliance.
“What the minister is asking us with Bill 25 is essentially to do the work of civil servants,” Airbnb policy adviser Camille Boulais-pretty said Tuesday.
Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx tabled Bill 25 earlier in May, aimed at combating illegal tourist accommodation. Platforms like Airbnb now have an obligation to ensure that accommodations displayed on their site comply with the law, otherwise they risk fines of up to $100,000 per illegal listing.
The Tourist Accommodation Act, passed in 2021, had made it compulsory to register accommodations for short-term rental, but it is widely flouted: only 30 per cent of accommodation advertisements are legal in Quebec, according to the Tourism Ministry. Airbnb says it has no data on the number of illegal offers.
Bill 25 would impose “too heavy” an administrative burden on Airbnb, Boulais-pretty said.
“The platforms will have to do a manual check of each of the (registration) certificates and will have to check their validity . ... We do not have the role of a regulator. We do not have the power of a regulator. We don't have the power of the police.”
In its brief, Airbnb argues it is the responsibility of the government to do the necessary verifications. It promises its full co-operation in removing the offending companies. A dedicated portal for this kind of inspection allows the government to withdraw the offers itself.
The City of Ottawa uses this system, Boulais-pretty said. “The solution we are proposing would be a system by which the platforms would be required to withdraw, at the request of the government, the advertisements that the latter deems non-compliant," she explained. “It's a system that's clear, that's really applicable across the industry, and that keeps the platforms accountable.”