I originally posted this analysis on the Reddit Vancouver Forum which is notoriously hostile to Airbnb. The folks there are convinced that the rising rental prices are a direct result of airbnb taking units off the long term rental market and the view is supported by constant articles from Journalists who see 4700 listings and extrapolate that to assume that all listings are fully available entire apartments.
Text of Reddit post below - Feel free to go there and upvote it and join the discussion to defend Airbnb if you are a local - We also have a Vancouver Facebook group which is very active for any locals that might be interested - https://www.facebook.com/groups/vancouverhosts/
I notice that on this forum there is a tendency to laud the benefits of Uber while being vehemently opposed to the similar company Airbnb. I feel that this may be because people feel that Uber would be a service readers may personally use and benefit from while Airbnb is perceived as making rich landlords richer at the expense of the working populace who are faced with ever rising rent prices due, partially, to units being taken off the market. As such I wanted to provide some analysis of the Airbnb market in Vancouver that shows how many units are actually available in Vancouver along with how many of those are people renting out spare rooms compared to those renting out whole apartments.
The insideairbnb.com website analyses listing stats for many cities around the world. They scrape the site for listings and then check the calendars for activity. You can filter for entire homes and apartments and then again for regularly booked listings, Indicating that it is frequently available for rent. This filters out those who are permanently renting out second homes as compared to those renting out spare rooms or personal homes while they are away for the weekend or on holidays etc.
It shows that out of 4700 listings in Vancouver overall there are 1,022 being rented out on a permanent basis and only 300 in downtown vancouver. This compares to 12,000 hotel rooms in just downtown Vancouver which have occupancy rates “Way Into the 90% range during peak periods” according to Tourism Vancouver
That means that 80% of Airbnb units are being used for sharing rooms or temporary rentals while the owners are away for a weekend or whatever. These rentals provide valuable income for those who are struggling to pay high rents or mortgages and they are occurring in a time when the city is experiencing 90% occupancy rates in hotels. In the month of August, during marathons, big conferences etc there are zero hotel rooms or Airbnb’s available for people and if those people can’t find a place to stay they just don’t come. The hosts benefiting are not rich landlords. 80% of them are ordinary people who need to rent out their spare rooms or house just to make ends meet or help bring in that extra bit of spare spending money to cover a vacation.
The remaining 1022 units that are actually being rented full time in Vancouver is around 1/3 of the number of units available on any given day on craigslist, even in this time of near zero availability. So maybe a days volume. To put it another way its less than 1/3rd of 1% of the total rental stock in Vancouver 891,335 Households of which 40% are rented. Releasing all of those units onto the rental market right now would have no impact on the rental prices as they are a negligible percentage of the overall market.
Anecdotally, I can say that the downtown core apartments are primarily rented by tourists and business travellers. However, outside the core the demographic changes considerably and is primarily people transitioning between houses, visiting to help their pregnant daughters, moving out of home due to a flood or a fire, and people moving to the city to start a new life. This group tend to stay longer, 2 - 6 weeks and are almost always families.
All of those people would face serious difficulty if they had to pay $300+ a day for each of two hotel rooms to house a family during these transitional periods and these are the people who would be primarily effected should onerous regulations or an outright ban be imposed.
TL/DR - 80% of Airbnb hosts are ordinary people renting rooms or their own home and the effect of entire home rentals is negligible on the market