UBC researcher says most Vancouver Airbnb hosts de facto commercial operators
By Liam Britten
07 June 2016
A University of British Columbia undergraduate geography student says
Airbnb is having a major impact on Vancouver's rental housing stock.
Iain Marjoribanks just finished a study on Airbnb for the B.C.
Non-Profit Housing Association to find out how many people are just
renting out an extra bed here and there, and how many are de facto
"What I found in my research was about 77 per cent of Airbnb's revenues
come from hosts that don't appear to live in the units they list on
Airbnb — what I call commercial hosts as opposed to casual hosts, which
is how Airbnb tends to portray itself," Marjoribanks told All Points
West host Robyn Burns.
"The top 10 per cent of hosts are these 'mega hosts' who bring in about
27 per cent of Airbnb's revenue and list three or more listings. So
those are the people who either take a single house and run it like a
hotel with individual rooms, or people who are renting those multiple
houses all over town."
Marjoribanks' conclusions fly in the face of what Airbnb Aaron Zifkin,
country manager of Airbnb in Canada, told On The Coast host Stephen
Quinn in April.
"The vast majority of Airbnb listings in the world are in people's
principal residences," he said. "These are people who are renting out
their homes or a room in their homes on an occasional basis."
Marjoribanks says his research suggests only 47 per cent of hosts are
principal residences, and if the service was no longer offered in
Vancouver, the rental vacancy rate would double from 0.8 to up to two
Make the company pay?
Victoria is looking to regulate Airbnb in some way, which Marjoribanks says is easier said than done.
He says San Francisco and Portland have had some success regulating the
number of days per year a property can be put up for short-term rental
and also requires Airbnb hosts to register their rental properties.
"Unfortunately, San Francisco has about a 9.5 per cent compliance rate,
and Portland has an 11 per cent compliance rate," he said.
"There's no way for [cities] to go after these hosts, because Airbnb
protects the identity of hosts, and therefore, we're unable to figure
out who they are, where they are, or how many days they are or aren't
renting their units as a short-term rental."
Marjoribanks' proposal is for the cities or the province to fine Airbnb
itself for violations, and then presumably Airbnb would pass those
fines on to non-compliant hosts.
"If you're going to be taking a full house off the market all year
round, you should be paying for the cost that transfers to society," he
To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Vancouver Airbnb rentals mostly commercial operations, not extra couches: researcher