Airbnb is a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging indifferent cities all over the world. Their objective, called homesharing, is to make stay in a city more affordable for those who wish to visit them, especially during peak seasons when events happen in that city. Airbnb has been in business since 2008, but the sudden spike of renters in Vancouver, as well as unit purchases in different condominiums by unlicensed brokers and investors, is hurting BC renters and those who actually need long-term housing.
A number of renters in BC have been evicted by their landlords over Airbnb, and one landlord even found her unit being rented out by her renters on Airbnb without her knowing it.
Airbnb Canada insists most people who post listings on their site are occasional hosts who use the service to help make ends meet, despite some critics’ concerns about the site’s effect on long-term housing stock. The average Canadian on Airbnb rents out their place for four to five nights every month, earning about $4,000 to $5,000 a year.
Aaron Zifkin, country manager of Airbnb in Canada say that for most people, listing a place on Airbnb is not a commercial activity.
“These are people who are renting out their homes or a room in their homes on an occasional basis.”
Some studies suggest there are up to 4,000 Airbnb listings in Vancouver, many of which are for entire properties.
Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs is calling for better regulation of Airbnb, including possible licensing, due to concerns that listings are cutting into Vancouver’s already low housing stock. Zifkin says Airbnb is aware of the challenges Vancouver faces, and will work with cities to update their regulations to reflect current technology.
“We’re committed to working with cities to create sensible regulations that are really simple and clear to understand so that people can take on this occasional activity and understand what their obligations are.”
By Rosette Corea