Saskatoon starts looking into Airbnb regulations

WATCH ABOVE: As Airbnb continues to grow in popularity, hotels across the country want to level the playing field including here is Saskatoon. Rebekah Lesko reports.

Jennifer Krystyniak wasn’t using the space in her basement, so a month and a half ago, she turned it into an Airbnb.

Krystyniak joined more than 300 hosts in Saskatoon to list their home on the Airbnb website.

READ MORE: Hotel association complains of ‘unregulated’ Airbnb on their business

“We’ve had great people through. It’s actually pretty nice to meet different people that come and go, some as close as Regina and we’ve had others in Alberta so far,” Krystyniak said.

There are currently no regulations surrounding Airbnbs in Saskatoon; however, bed and breakfast operations are regulated.

On Friday, the City of Saskatoon said they’re looking for feedback on regulations for short-term accommodations.

Residents are invited to complete an online survey and attend an open house event on Oct. 24 at Frances Morrison Library.

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Saskatchewan’s Hotel and Hospitality Association said these regulation efforts are welcomed.

“Across the board, Airbnb has had a significant impact,” said Jim Bence, the president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association.

This week the Hotel Association of Canada said 17 per cent of Airbnb’s revenues are true home-sharing. The association said the problem is with the 83 per cent of revenue, which is from entire-home rentals, such as a house or condo, where an owner is not present.

“If it was just mom and pop renting out their room, that’s one thing, but when it becomes those commercial enterprises, which really are being run as illegal hotels, dark hotels, that’s where the challenge comes in,” Bence said.

In a written statement, Airbnb said, “the big corporate hotels are at it again, peddling lies about home-sharing to protect their ability to price-gouge consumers, and preserve antiquated business models.”

READ MORE: Vancouver will study effects of Airbnb on rental market

“Vacation rentals have always been an important part of Canada’s tourism economy. Today, regular people in communities large and small are making some extra money sharing their space, too — but the hotels have made it clear they won’t back down until they eliminate their competition,” Airbnb spokesperson Lindsey Scully wrote in an email.

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Airbnb said they’re committed to working with the government to develop rules that support home sharing.