Hotel associations call for crack down on short-term rentals

By Cormac Mac Sweeney

While Airbnb can be an affordable alternative for many travellers, the Hotel Association of Canada is calling on all federal parties to crack down on short-term online rentals.

Alana Baker with the Hotel Association of Canada says it’s time to even the playing field and update outdated e-commerce laws. They want to see companies such as Airbnb pay income tax and apply GST or HST to its services, noting the government is missing out on $169-million in sales tax revenues alone.

“These platforms continue to reap the benefits without paying their fair share,” says Baker. “It is now a multi-billion dollar corporation that has no responsibilities to federal taxation and other regulatory realities such as health and safety standards.”

Steve Ball with the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association likens Airbnb to a virus, saying there are many unintended consequences such as less available housing for residents to live in, soaring rental prices, community nuisances and safety concerns.

But Airbnb is fighting back, accusing the hotel association of peddling lies to eliminate the competition and protect “their ability to price gouge consumers and preserve outdated business models.”

Airbnb says it has worked with municipal and provincial governments and the Canada Revenue Agency to make sure its hosts pay appropriate taxes, adding home sharing has helped boost tourism.

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