Well so much for owning a Chalet in StSauveur & hoping to capitalize on the Summer months or the Winter Months, cause now you can't just stay a week,but rather 4 month only.......... Is it just me ,or are we being over regulated by ur friendly local govt's.
MONTREAL - A Laurentian municipality’s hard line on short-term rentals seems to have turned renting out a country house into a black-market activity.
The city administration of St. Sauveur in the Laurentians refuses to tolerate the practice of country-house owners charging guests for stays of less than four months and has sent out numerous letters warning owners whose homes are in residential areas that they are prohibited from running a business in a non-commercial location.
St. Sauveur town manager Jean Beaulieu told The Gazette he is identifying people through the many sites that advertise chalets. He estimates his office has sent out more than 100 letters and says St. Sauveur is doing this to protect the tranquillity of residential areas.
Asked what happens if they don’t comply with the letter? “We’ll take them to court.”
Critics of the get-tough approach on residential area businesses say the city is kneecapping homeowners who want to earn extra money and are ignoring the fact that many vacationers prefer chalets to hotel rooms.
They also question why the city would sacrifice the extra tourist dollars from additional visitors.
“Nobody rents for four months at a time,” said real estate agent Diane Bouthillette, who represents many chalet owners and says she has seen many properties being unloaded in St. Sauveur because of the law, as well as in Ste. Adèle, which a few years ago decided to take a similar hard line.
Beaulieu says he has seen a rise in entrepreneurial activity among property owners. “It used to be that people would stay in their homes all year and lend their country house to a friend or occasionally rent it out. Now it’s the opposite.”
He says many homeowners spend just a couple of weeks a year in their chalet and then rent it out.
Beaulieu says that has led to greater activity in the residential areas. He heard of one incident of a bus pulling up to a private chalet and unloading an entire hockey team that he figures decided to save some money on a hotel by renting a private chalet.
The government has the law on its side. A 2009 court case found in favour of the municipal government, which had taken Chalet Saint-Sauveur to court for renting their five country houses for less than four months at a time in a residential zone.
While some owners have felt the chill, others still seem to be renting by taking themselves off the visible market and using word of mouth and sites that help them from having their properties identified.
That’s what one owner who asked to not be identified has done. He bought his home as an investment for $400,000 and has put $50,000 into renovating the dwelling. He charges $1,300 to $1,700 for a week’s stay and has been finding regular clients.
He’s located in another Laurentian municipality, but worries that this hard-line stance in St. Sauveur will come to his area.
He had been registered with the CITQ, the provincial body that classifies bed & breakfasts, hotels and other tourist accommodations, but has since decided to not renew his membership with them, saying it would be best to stay off their radar.
Beaulieu admits there will be people who will work under the table and knows he can’t catch everyone who is doing this. “If someone has a place in the woods and they’re not advertising, then we’re not going to know about it.”
Letters to chalet owners have also been coming from the CITQ. It has been asking owners that they make sure that they receive permission from their municipality before they set up their businesses. “Most of my clients have been contacted by Tourism Quebec,” said Jean-François Demers, owner of chaletsalouer.com, referring to the CITQ.
Demers charges chalet owners $100 a year for online advertising and says he has lost most of his customers in St. Sauveur. The irony is not lost on him that the sites that help owners offer summer weekends in their country places have also been offering up both the municipality and the province addresses for where they can send their letters.
Bouthillette, the real estate agent, thinks the city should show more flexibility. “Why can’t they make a special category, one for private owners? Why penalize everybody?”
Chaletsalouer’s Demers agrees and thinks about couples where one person has lost their job and needs the rental income from their country property.
For now, the unidentified chalet owner tries to stay off the radar. He tells his guests no music outside and recently refused potential clients that wanted his chalet for a wedding reception.