Airbnb has likely removed almost 4,000 units from Vancouver’s home rental stock: study

But Airbnb says the number is less than 10% of what the study asserts

Photo: ArthurStock, Shutterstock

Airbnb touts itself as a service that allows homeowners to earn extra cash by putting their spare bedrooms up for rent to short-term visitors, but according to a new McGill study, the service is having a significant negative impact on the rental market in Canada’s three largest cities.

In Vancouver alone, the Short-term cities: Airbnb’s impact on Canadian housing markets study, found an estimated 3,888 units that would ordinarily be included in the city’s rental stock have been removed as their owners have turned instead to short-term rentals on Airbnb.

In total, in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, the study, conducted using data compiled by consulting firm Airdna, estimates that almost 5,000 fewer homes in both Montreal and Toronto are available for rent directly because of Airbnb, and this is only taking into account full units.

“In total, there are 14,000 homes across the three cities which can no longer have full-time residents living in them because they are serving as de-facto hotels instead,” according to the study.

“The three cities have a further 5,400 full-time private-room listings between them, which also represent a potentially problematic loss of rental housing, since many of these rooms will have previously hosted tenants living in roommate situations.”

In the study, the authors say almost 9% of the total listings for Vancouver, or 1,789 units, are full-time, entire homes with multiple listings – what they are calling the “unholy trinity.”

“These are the listings which represent the maximum commercialization and commodification of home sharing: they are being operated as a large-scale business, and they are taking long-term housing off the rental market.”

In some areas in the city, according to the study, more than 3% of the total rental stock has been removed directly because of owners turning instead to Airbnb.

From: Short-term cities: Airbnb’s impact on Canadian housing markets

In July, Vancouver city staff put forward a regulatory framework that aims to regulate short-term rentals such as those booked through Airbnb. The proposed rules would permit such rentals only in the principal residences of those advertising the listings.

Airbnb responds

In a statement emailed to Business in Vancouver, Airbnb press secretary Lindsey Scully directly disputed the McGill study’s claims, saying the “vast majority of [Airbnb hosts] are middle-class Canadian families sharing their homes to earn a bit of additional income” which helps them pay their bills.

“The fact is only 320 entire-home listings in Vancouver home share frequently enough to outcompete long-term rentals, undercutting the author’s baseless conclusions about housing units removed.”

Scully said one of the reasons for the discrepancy between McGill’s figures and Airbnb’s stats is the fact that a host can have multiple listings that all relate to the same piece of property.

“For example, a host can share a room in their home when they are home, and the entire apartment when they travel,” she said. “This means they have two separate listings.”

To view the complete study, click here.