Vancouver Airbnb revenues driven by empty homes, says UBC researcher

Jun 9 2016, 9:40 pm

AirBnB makes most of its money in Vancouver from rentals of homes that no one lives in, according to research by a UBC geography undergraduate.

Iain Marjoribanks produced the study on Airbnb as a student research project for the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC.

He found 77% of Airbnb’s corporate revenue in Vancouver comes from units that are rented so frequently, it is unlikely the hosts even live there.

Of course, it stands to reason that empty homes being rented out all the time would make Airbnb more money than occasional renters.

But, Marjoribanks says, those empty homes account for 53% of listings in the city and Vancouver’s top Airbnb hosts rent dozens of units across town.

“The majority of Airbnb listings in Vancouver are taking housing away from residents,” Marjoribanks told Daily Hive by email. “If every Airbnb in Vancouver were rented as a long-term rental, the city’s vacancy rate would rise from 0.8% to 2.0%.”

Marjoribanks says his findings call into question comments made by Airbnb’s Aaron Zifkin, who, in an earlier CBC interview, said “all of our hosts are occasional homesharers.”

He says his research suggests “occasional homesharers” account for just 23% of Airbnb’s revenues in Vancouver.

“Casual hosts and even some commercial hosts can make housing more affordable,” said Marjoribanks, who says what is needed is regulation by the City.

“Other cities have attempted to tax short-term rentals, and limit the number of days a resident can list a property in a year,” he said.

Read Marjoribanks’ full study here.