Laws have been brought in to regulate ride-sharing services and an industry group is calling for regulation, this time of internet based middleman Air B n B.
Grant McCurdy, the Chairman of Edmonton Destination Marketing Hotels, says Air B n B created an unfair playing field in their industry and regulation is badly needed.
“They don’t pay business taxes, they don’t participate in tourism fees, they don’t employ employees like hotels do and we’re competing head-on,” explains McCurdy. “That’s where it gets frustrating, they seem to be getting a free ride.”
McCurdy says Air B n B is competing directly with hotels, motels and B n Bs but doesn’t have to follow any rules which is completely unfair.
“There is no regulations in terms of bodies watching them to make sure were all mandated,” explains McCurdy. “Hotels are mandated both in health and safety and cleanliness, from ratings and if you’re a brand, you’re usually rated twice a year.”
McCurdy says users are buying homes to rent on the site, essentially creating a year round hotel in a home with no regulations, improper zoning, no business license and no taxes paid.
“It is not an even playing field, there’s not taxes, no standards implemented and you’re basically on your own,” explains McCurdy. “You’re basically at the scrutiny of the landlord to make sure it’s fair and equitable.”
McCurdy says a simple bylaw, like the one for ride-sharing companies, would level the playing field again.
“The main thing is we want a regulatory body looking at it so it is safe and that it is a fair playing field against hotels,” explains McCurdy. “It is a competitive market and we’re all trying to make business at the end of the day.”
The city says they don’t have any bylaw but Air B n B operators must have a business license.
Nancy Domijan, with the city, says Air B n B somewhat falls under current bylaws but they do not mention it specifically…
“If you’re operating it as a home-based business, you need to get a business licence,” explains Domijan. “I know that a lot of Air B n Bs are not getting business licences.”
Domijan says the business may be a good way for you to make extra cash but your neighbours might not like the effect it has on the area.
“Operating an Air B n B can have an impact on your neighbours, whether it is parking or signage or things like that, which are regulated under the zoning bylaw,” explains Domijan. “Those are things a homeowner should keep in mind if they are operating an Air B n B.”
She says if you notice issues with a home that is an Air B n B, you can complain and it will be dealt with.
“We don’t proactively go out and search Air B n Bs for compliance under our bylaws, we just don’t have the capacity to do that kind of work,” explains Domijan. “We will respond to a complaint, so if we do get complaints in, we will investigate and do any enforcement action we see necessary.”
McCurdy adds other cities are seeing housing and renting shortages as well as more homes are being bought and listed as Air B n Bs rather than home rentals and worries that could happen here. (twd)