Canadian Underwriter

Ontario partners with Airbnb on new pilot project related to legal rights and responsibilities

February 19, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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Ontario’s Ministry of Finance announced on Friday that the province is partnering with Airbnb to launch a new pilot project to raise awareness about homeowners’ and consumers’ rights and legal responsibilities.

Ontario is the first province to partner with Airbnb to ensure consumers and hosts know their legal rights and responsibilities

San Francisco-based Airbnb is a “community marketplace” for people to list, discover and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone or tablet.

The pilot project – the first of its kind in Canada – will raise awareness about homeowners’ and consumers’ rights and responsibilities when offering or booking online accommodations, the Ministry of Finance said in a press release on Friday. It will inform users about:

• How to follow tax laws such as reporting rental income;

• Consumer protection rights under contracts, such as cancellations or refunds;

• Accessibility requirements, such as allowing service animals on rental property; and

• Other regulatory and safety obligations, such as having a functioning smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.

Related: Airbnb introduces a broader insurance coverage policy for Canadians

Airbnb will educate its hosts through an email notification during tax season to remind them of their tax obligations, the ministry said in the release. The province and Airbnb will also collaborate to create a webpage with content specific to Ontario regulations and link to the Ontario government website for detailed information on topics such as consumer protection, accessibility requirements and more.

The sharing economy has significant potential to create jobs and drive growth, productivity and innovation, the ministry said, adding that research shows the benefits include cost savings and greater choice for consumers, as well as increased access to capital for small startups.

The announcement follows the establishment last October of the province’s Sharing Economy Advisory Committee to oversee the government’s approach to this emerging sector, the release said. There are currently more than 11,000 hosts in Ontario that list their properties on Airbnb. A typical host in Ontario makes about $280 a month in additional income, and last year alone, more than 375,000 people visited Ontario via Airbnb, the ministry reported.

Related: Bill to legalize Uber, Airbnb in Ontario passes second reading

According to an estimate by PricewaterhouseCoopers, global revenues from five of the key sharing economy sectors (accommodation, transportation, finance, services and labour, and music/video streaming) are projected to grow to US$335 billion by 2025 from US$15 billion US today.

“Airbnb is proud to partner with Ontario and ensure our host and guest community have the tools and information they need to understand their rights, responsibilities and tax obligations for home sharing, said Aaron Zifkin, country manager – Canada, with Airbnb. “With this pilot, the province has reaffirmed their commitment to harnessing the power of new economic opportunities created by the sharing economy.”