BUSINESS

Condo Building Overrun With Short-Term Rentals, One Owner Says

05/16/2015 08:59 EDT | Updated 05/16/2016 05:59 EDT
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The Airbnb Inc. application and website are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone and iPad in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 21, 2014. Airbnb Inc. is raising money from investors including TPG Capital in a financing round that would value the room-sharing service at more than $10 billion, said people with knowledge of the deal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Montreal woman says her condo building feels "invaded by strangers" because many of her neighbours are renting out their units to tourists for short-term stays.

SimoneNichol, who lives in a 16-unit building in the Gay Village, said over the last few years her building has become like a hotel.

"There would be suitcases of people coming in, suitcases of people coming out," she said.

"It was awful. We just felt like we were invaded by strangers."

Nichol said half of the other owners in the building, including some of the condo administrators, are renting out their units to tourists for a few days or weeks at a time.

Nichol went to the Ville-Marie borough for help.

She showed city inspectors online ads posted by her neighbours offering their units for short-term rental, for $120 dollar a night or $1,400 for a month.

City inspectors told her they couldn't do anything unless they saw more evidence, such as a rental sign posted at the door.

City needs more evidence

In Quebec, residents are not allowed to advertise online or rent out their apartment on a regular basis — for fewer than 31 days — without registering and paying a $250 fee.

The province is planning to table a bill regulating online home-sharing services such as Airbnb, making it the first province in the country to crack down on the practice of renting rooms without a permit.

But for now, a spokesperson for the city says those ads on their own are not enough evidence for the city to take action.

An inspector's report states there's not enough proof to intervene, saying "advertising on a website would only constitute an introductory element in court."

The online ads are enough proof for Nichol's insurance company.

Nichol and the other residents will have to find another company with higher premiums.

Not everyone in the building is against the short-term rentals.

Lucie Bernier, another owner, said the people who rent out their condos are actually forced to keep them well-maintained so they're attractive enough to rent out regularly.