The fall of an Airbnb “magnate” in Quebec City

One sunny afternoon in July 2018, Jean-Paul Boily is walking on a sidewalk in the Montcalm district, in Quebec, when he sees a black Ferrari parking suddenly on René-Lévesque Boulevard.
B oily, who suffers from a severe anxiety disorder, shudders recognizing the man at the wheel. It is Frédéric Murray, his ex-owner of the building where he lived on rue Saint-Jean.

Murray gets out of his car. On the sidewalk, he follows his ex-tenant and yells at him. At the corner of avenue Bourlamaque and René-Lévesque, Boily tries to take refuge in a convenience store. But Murray holds the door to prevent it. Then he grabs Boily by the neck. And he releases it.

Captured by the convenience store surveillance camera, the images of the attack were broadcast on January 22 at the Municipal Court of Quebec and obtained by Le Soleil. On that day, Frédéric Murray pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault against Boily.

The story could end there while waiting for the judge to sentence Murray on Tuesday and decide if he deserves a criminal record. Except that this story hides a larger one: that of a real estate investor who saw himself becoming a “magnate” of the Airbnb in Quebec, according to a former partner, but who found on his way a revolting tenant.

Tall, muscular, with his cheek on the side, Frédéric Murray, 36, is a chartered accountant and real estate investor. On Instagram, this car enthusiast likes to publish photos of him with luxury tanks: a black Cadillac Escalade, a black Ferrari, a Lamborghini with his name on it. Often, we see him in the sun of West Palm Beach, where he poses in front of the garage of his second home or basks in a hot tub.

Until October 2018, Frédéric Murray was co-owner of Immeubles Murray inc., A family business which, according to Murray, owns about a hundred dwellings, notably in Old Quebec and the Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Montcalm and Saint districts. -Sacrament.

According to the Business Register, Murray’s father – who is retired in Mont-Joli – is today the sole owner of the business. In municipal court, Frédéric Murray told the Sun that he was “packed” of the shareholders of the company following a bankruptcy petition filed by a former partner. Frédéric Murray now claims that he is “helping with the management” of the Murray Buildings.

Disturbing tourists

In Quebec, the real estate company has also accomplished a particular feat: it is one of the champions of the tickets delivered to the owners of dwellings rented in Airbnb.

Jean-Paul Boily knows something about it. In 2015, this frail 40-year-old with loose clothes moved into a heritage building of red and white bricks located at 280, rue Saint-Jean, which belongs to the Murray Buildings. The following year, tourists began to disembark.

At any time, Americans, Asians, Europeans push the private front door of Jean-Paul Boily, and roll their suitcases in the corridor. In his Airbnb ad, Frédéric Murray provides Jean-Paul Boily’s address to visitors, so that visitors believe they are staying in Boily’s apartment.

“At one point, says Jean-Paul Boily, there was even a Japanese who didn’t understand anything and who said to me:“ It’s okay, take your time to clean up, we’ll settle down afterwards. ” I was home!”

At night too, travelers bump into Boily’s house, awakened with a start by her barking dog. Often, the tenant himself will drive the travelers to an apartment rented in Airbnb at the back of the building, and he helps them to carry their suitcases.

During the summer, turnover is high. Tourists stay less than 24 hours and are replaced by others who also knock on Jean-Paul Boily’s door. Some party until late at night. They chat and laugh out loud.

Jean-Paul Boily is not the only one losing patience. One evening, Patricia *, an ex-tenant of the building, complains to Frédéric Murray. In an exchange of text messages to which she gave us access, she wrote to Murray: “First time I complain about an Airbnb [visitor]. But there, it prevents me from sleeping, wakes me up. If it is still [there] at night, I don’t hesitate to knock on the wall. ”

In the summer of 2016, tensions were high between Murray and several tenants of the building. A former tenant, Nicolas Bérubé, shows us a full-bodied text exchange between him and Frédéric Murray, in which the latter is quite explicit, when he replies that he is “not comfortable losing 3000 [$] per month keeping you a tenant. ” (1)

Then Frédéric Murray adds a threat: “Before December 31, you will receive a letter that I will take back your apartment for [a] member of my family. […] I swear to you, the letter you will have [it]. Go see on the [Régie] website, it’s legal. And [it’s] not the first time I do it. […] Feck, you will spread the word to your group in the building. ” (2)

In a telephone interview with Le Soleil, Frédéric Murray indicates that he ultimately did not send the letter. He admits, however, that he prefers Airbnb to long-term rental, both because it is more profitable and it is less hassle.

“To be honest with you, it’s just a way of not having tenants to manage,” he says. “Tenants, with stories like Jean-Paul [Boily], I have stopped favoring them. The rest of them, as soon as they could hurt me, they would hurt me, ”he adds.

Exit the poor?

Former business partner of Frédéric Murray, Martin Deschênes remembers the Airbnb ambitions of his ex-partner. “He wanted to become the Airbnb tycoon in Quebec,” says Deschênes.

Frédéric Murray despised the tenants, says Deschênes. He saw them as “damned poor”, “crisses of socialists”, “guitar scratchers” who did not earn enough money with their rents and obstructed the Airbnb, illustrates the former partner of Murray. His plan was “to cuddle them outside,” sums up Martin Deschênes, who broke his ties with Murray in 2016.

Frédéric Murray denies having made the remarks described by Mr. Deschênes. “He’s someone who has a vendetta against me,” he says of his former partner.

Patricia, the ex-tenant of Immeubles Murray rue Saint-Jean, remembers having had several conversations with Frédéric Murray about his desire to increase Airbnb in Quebec. Murray wondered in particular how to prevent his ads from being spotted on the Airbnb site by Quebec City, recalls Patricia.

The former tenant remembers the reaction of Frédéric Murray when she announced his departure from the building. “He died of laughter. [He said to me:] “I just can’t wait for you to go, because I’m going to make four times more money when you go.” ”

“At one point, there was even a Japanese who didn’t understand anything and who said to me:” It’s okay, take your time to clean up, we’ll settle down afterwards. ” I was at home! ”Says Jean-Paul Boily
“At one point, there was even a Japanese who didn’t understand anything and who said to me:” It’s okay, take your time to clean up, we’ll settle down afterwards. ” I was at home! ”Says Jean-Paul Boily

In December 2017, Jean-Paul Boily reached the limits of his patience. While tourists continue to disembark in the building on rue Saint-Jean, his apartment is in a dismal state. Mr. Boily complains to Quebec City. An inspector goes to his house.

In her report, the inspector takes stock of her observations: several planks on the floor are badly joined or downright broken; the shower door and the bathroom vanity do not close and there is no mechanical ventilation; the kitchen cabinets are falling apart and drawers are missing; only one round of the stove works and the fridge does not work (they are supposed to be included in the lease).

Jean-Paul Boily also has trouble with his toaster and microwave because of frequent electrical overloads; he even lost electricity for four days in November, according to a formal notice sent to Frédéric Murray through the downtown legal aid office. But Boily does not have access to the electrical box. It is installed in another accommodation, rented in Airbnb, according to the formal notice.

After twenty months of enduring tourists, Jean-Paul Boily never manages to be heard by Frédéric Murray, who seems to ignore his many complaints, says Boily. “I said to him:“ This is a mess; yesterday there were four of them. ” He said: “Jean-Paul, what is important to me is my five stars.” He kept repeating that to me: his five stars. ”

A former neighbor says she saw the mental state of Jean-Paul Boily wither away during the influx of tourists. “The Airbnb have rotted his life,” says Manon *.

At the end of 2017, Boily denounced to Quebec City the accommodation of tourists in his building. Consequently, City inspectors keep an eye on the Murray Buildings. Between January and May 2018, they remit nearly ten tickets – at $ 2,000 each – to the Murray Buildings for illegal Airbnb.

In the wake of the first fines, Frédéric Murray intimidated Jean-Paul Boily, whom he held responsible for his troubles with the City, alleges Boily.

In spring, the tenant often sits with his dog on the steps in front of the building. Several times, says Boily, Murray parks his Ferrari in front of him and threatens him. “He said to me: ‘You wanted to get me sick, my bosom, you’re going to taste it’ or ‘We’re going to beat you, you’ll see’,” recalls Boily.

Frédéric Murray denies having intimidated Boily at the time. He believes that these are “hearsay from someone who has a mental illness” and who “is trying to brew spit”. He claims that Jean-Paul Boily smoked pot, took medicine and often had seizures. Relations between the two men have already been good, he says, but have gotten worse because of the Airbnb.

Stéphane *, a neighbor on rue Saint-Jean, often talked to Jean-Paul Boily when he said he had received threats from Murray. He remembers that Boily told him that he had been threatened several times by Murray in the spring of 2018. “He was afraid of reprisals,” says Stéphane. There was bullying. ”

Several times before and after his departure from the Murray accommodation, Jean-Paul Boily rebelled by pasting posters on the windows of another building belonging to the Murray Buildings on Saint-Jean Street. And he threatens Frédéric Murray to report him to TVA and the police.

Once, for example, Jean-Paul Boily sticks a white sheet of paper on which he writes in black felt-tip pen: “The police are aware that you want me to smash my face. Why don’t you do it yourself, cowardly screech. Are you scarred? I’m ready, you idiot. ”

Jean-Paul Boily also calls Murray from a telephone booth, mentioning his mother’s name and calling him “son of a bitch”.

In the spring of 2018, Jean-Paul Boily chats with his mother in his apartment when Frédéric Murray starts knocking on his door. The two men argue. Murray threatens to “scold him,” recalls Boily. “I was there:” What are you going to do? […] Are you going to screech me in front of my mother? He said, “This can be done anywhere, I won’t get my hands dirty on you, it’s my boyfriends who are going to kiss you one.” ”

Boily’s mother Lise Allaire corroborates the threats allegedly made against her son that day. Frédéric Murray denies that it happened.

At this time, Jean-Paul Boily is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He says that he calls the Quebec police almost every time a tourist shows up in the building. Police refer him to the PECH organization, which helps people with mental health problems. With the help of the organization, Boily leaves her apartment on rue Saint-Jean in June 2018.

A month later, Frédéric Murray meets Jean-Paul Boily in the Montcalm district.

It was at this point that he caught him by the collar in front of the surveillance cameras of a convenience store.

Boily is disturbed by the assault. “I went by ambulance because I was shaking,” he recalls. In his report for the Standards, Equity, Health and Safety Commission (CNESST), the doctor who meets Jean-Paul Boily estimates that the patient’s anxiety and depressive symptoms have exacerbated significantly since the assault.

Today, Jean-Paul Boily says that he still has regular nightmares in which Frédéric Murray attacks him. This winter, he did a psychiatric stay which he attributes to Murray’s gestures.

Criminal record or Florida?

A year and a half after the attack, Frédéric Murray wears a sports jacket and stands in front of judge François Dugré of the municipal court of Quebec. He pleads guilty to the assault against Boily.

His lawyer, M e Jean-Félix Charbonneau request Dugré judge that his client does not get a criminal record. He argues that Murray has no criminal history and that the assault on Boily was an impulsive gesture fueled by the tension between the two men. “The sons touched each other,” says the lawyer.

Moreover, argues M e Charbonneau, a criminal record would prevent Frederick Murray to travel to Florida and pursue its real estate projects out there. Instead, the lawyer suggests that his client be ordered to donate a few hundred dollars to an organization for people “like Mr. Boily,” who have mental health problems.

In an interview with Le Soleil , Frédéric Murray is surprised not to have gone too far against Boily, after all the posters that he has stuck on his building and insulted him on the phone about his mother.

“I am not perfect, sometimes I am aggressive when I am disrespectful,” he says. I work on it, I try to do yoga and lots of business as well. I still have work to do, because basically I’m an aggressive guy. In my head, that day, I feel like I haven’t lost more control than that. ”

Justice Dugré will rule on Tuesday. But whatever the magistrate decides, Jean-Paul Boily’s revolt will have dampened Frédéric Murray’s Airbnb ambitions in Quebec.

Between 2017 and 2019, Quebec City inspectors handed over fines of $ 100,000 to Murray Buildings for illegal Airbnb. The vast majority of statements of offense are still contested in the Municipal Court.

Frédéric Murray claims that he has stopped Airbnb while waiting for these cases to be settled in court. “Everything is on ice right now,” he says. He now hopes he can turn to Florida. “I’m starting to look for more to buy there. Because there, Airbnb is legal, “he says. “At the same time,” adds Murray, “I am warm, and we draw less attention.”

* The real names of Patricia, Manon and Stéphane have been changed to protect their identity.

(1) According to the Inside Airbnb site, which compiles statistics from Airbnb data, the average price of an Airbnb in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste district is $ 113 / night.

(2) Verification made to the Régie du logement, an owner effectively has the right to take over a dwelling to live there himself or to house certain members of his family. But when this right “is exercised in bad faith”, the tenant has recourse, says Denis Miron, spokesperson for the Régie.

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