This is bad- dead guests in illegal Airbnb

Sounds like there was no proper egress or smoke alarms. And the tenant didn’t have permission from the landlord to list on Airbnb, let alone not having any permits.
Says the landlord had been trying to get the listing taken down. Wonder if this will finally get Airbnb to take down listings when the property owners tell them a tenant is listing without permission.
Seems to always take guests dying for Airbnb to pay attention and change their money-grubbing ways.


It also said there were other long-term rentals in the building and that it was a multi-unit residential rental building. So with or without an Airbnb in one of the units there should be proper egress and smoke alarms, it should be up to code regardless. Even though the tenant shouldn’t have been renting on Airbnb without the landlord’s permission, I can’t see how it really has anything thing to do with Airbnb. If there was something wrong with the building then it is the owner’s fault.

I think it’s very popular to add “Airbnb” to news stories these days.


Well, the Lavenir FL lawsuit in another thread (in the complaint you found and posted here) would argue that Airbnb is responsible if it was an Airbnb short-term rental. One article says it was a short term rental ‘or Airbnbs’ suggesting that they’re using the term generically. But the Mayor has a planned meeting with Airbnb.

There’s a few other articles on this incident. See the last link below, which shows that some interior apartments had no windows. The article said that the alarm system was replaced in 2019, had recently been tested and was working. [BTW, Proper requires us to test the smoke alarm system with each turnover, which we do.]


In my opinion municipalities AND platforms like Airbnb should be more proactive and cooperative in making sure that listings are legal and safe.

In the complaint from the FL case that you posted here the plaintiff (p 15) alleges duties of Airbnb that would be applicable here.

Interesting fact: “It took 130 firefighters nearly four hours to get the fire under control.” It took a day to put it out completely.

The cause of the fire still has not been determined. An arson squad is investigating.

This is a good article on it.

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When I read that the guests were supposedly trapped with no way to get out, I was thinking about those listings you sometimes see where the host has shoved a bed in a closet or other room never intended to be used as a bedroom, that is windowless. And/or the host had blocked some secondary egress with a heavy piece of furniture. Not the landlord’s fault.

As far as the smoke alarms, the article didn’t say there weren’t any, or that they weren’t working, but there again, the host or one of the guests could have disabled it at some point and it had never been fixed. That wouldn’t have been on the landlord of the building.

To me, it has to do with Airbnb, even though only one unit, it seems, was listed on Airbnb, because the building owner had given the tenant/host a cease and desist letter, and an eviction notice, yet the tenant was continuing to rent it out. And while it didn’t say whether the landlord had also contacted Airbnb to report that it was an illegal listing, I would venture a guess he did, as that is usually what owner/landlords do in these cases.

I have read many posts where owner/landlords reported their tenants listing illegally, submitting their ownership documentation and a copy of the “no subletting” lease, and Airbnb ignores it and leaves the listing up.

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Here’s a picture from the last link in my last post:

The first photo shows a windowless room, the second has windows, so I don’t understand why they labelled that a windowless room.

FYI: A reddit post on this.

The first “windowless” room in the pic above could have a door just out of frame to the right and a window over the photographer’s left shoulder, taken at night. It’s not a good photo to “prove” there are no windows.

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I read in-depth about this. Those are “window frames” in the second picture. They open from one room into another room within the same apartment. There are no windows that open to the outside of the apartments. There were several apartments in the middle of the building that had no windows (other than these weird internal window frames).

Multiple apartments. Middle of the building. Zero windows. Horrendous fire-traps in a 130-year-old building rented out to both residential tenants and licensed businesses (an architectural firm no less, wtf) by a well-known local shyster.

It was an illegal and terribly dangerous rental whether tenant, business or guest. An Airbnb license wouldn’t have changed anything but a municipal office that reliably performed building inspections and regulated slumlords would have.

Either Airbnb is building the shittiest 130-year-old buildings ever while simultaneously adding a new “tragically windowless” category or someone(s) isn’t doing their job(s) in Montreal. That is the gist I got from reading local comments there. That and that it’s not the first time the guy who owns the building has gotten away with crimes (everyone seems to be oddly aware of that guy in an infamous way).


It’s the same with building codes. I like to say building codes are written in blood. Almost everything in Code can be traced back to people dying or getting maimed.


Did they call it illegal because it was not up to city code, or illegal because they were not allowed to rent on Airbnb?

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I think they’re saying it’s illegal because short-term rentals are not permitted in that part of Montreal. The city is saying that the Airbnb host should be required to show the permit # in the listing. [Since the tenant wouldn’t be able to get that permit the thought might be that that would be a tip-off to Airbnb that it was not a legal rental.]

Also, the tenant presumably had no right under the lease to sublet the apartment: the owner had filed a suit against the tenant for doing so.

But, of course, a windowless apartment would likely also be against the building code.

What isn’t 100% clear is whether that windowless apartment is something that the owner of the building did (he was convicted of tax evasion so he doesn’t seem to be someone punctilious about the law) or whether the tenants might have done something to the unit to make it that way.

True, one would have to see all 4 walls to prove there was no egress. But I don’t know why they would have provided that photo if there was a door and a window. Also, that photo is a wide angle, so that room is much smaller than it looks, which makes me think it is a closet or utility room, or a room created with partitions.

Now that more reports are coming out, it seems the whole building was a jimmy-rigged death trap.

What I don’t quite understand is that hosts have been suspended because they didn’t post their license number on their listing, in areas where that is required. So how did this host get away with having a listing with no license number.


Montreal appears to be, like most places, responsible for enforcing its STR laws itself (as opposed to Boston which required Airbnb to automatically remove listings without license numbers). And, like many cities, it doesn’t seem to be enforcing them very well. Or some places, like my city, don’t enforce them at all (even if you directly report the same places over and over again :wink:).

A lot of places pass STR laws/regulations to placate the people who want them but then don’t enforce them so it’s really just an empty political move. And to me that is a symptom of a larger issue. That’s why when something like this happens that isn’t obviously caused by an Airbnb (like a raging party thrown by a guest) and a mayor comes out loudly blabbing, making it about Airbnb, I’m suspicious. It comes across to me as a deceptive distraction technique to cover for other failings.

Obviously, I don’t know Montreal or its issues, it was just the gist I got and it sounded familiar. I looked at a bunch of listings for that area, Vieux-Montréal, where STRs have supposedly been illegal since 2018. There are a ton of listings (ok, about 800 in that very small area), the majority obviously illegal and without license numbers. There are a couple of small hotels and a couple of what seemed like realty-type groups that must have some sort of business exemption because they had license numbers posted, but most did not.

Even the licensed and legal listings had reviews that noted some fairly alarming safety issues, including bedrooms without windows and all kinds of other window issues too (windows sealed shut, windows for kids to fall out of) and door issues (doors can’t be shut completely or don’t lock), etc. It seems so strange to me. I read a lot of reviews in different places and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Licensed listings had reviews like this:

One of the bedrooms in our apartment had no windows; it was disconcerting not to be able to tell if it was midnight or midday.

The windows were all floor to ceiling but couldn’t be locked and swung open by themselves. We had to move furniture to block them so our toddler wouldn’t fall out.

But this, from a non-licensed listing, kind of takes the proverbial cake (apparently these hosts have their guests enter the unit from a fire escape :zipper_mouth_face:):

The only thing I would say is that the private entrance to the room (using the fire escape) is a little hazardous during the winter because of ice.


Yes, I’ve been kind of aware of the lax enforcement in Montreal and also read some listings there and read posts from neighbors who were being driven crazy by bad guests in unlicensed listings, who also talked about fire escapes being used as entrances.

Perhaps the lawless attitude carries over to other areas, as well. Quebec has had the overall highest rates of Covid cases per capita, and there were a lot of masking protests and blatant non-compliance with Covid measures there. In particular, there was one apartment I read about that hosted big dance parties all through the pandemic, including during mandated lockdown, with the owner being taken to court, slapped with fines, then defying the cease and desist order and continuing.

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That really kind of blew my mind :exploding_head:

Does this ever happen with VRBO? What happens when a VRBO guest throws a party and someone gets hurt or killed?