3 in 4 Vancouver Airbnb units run by commercial hosts

By Amy Chen

Three in four Airbnb units available in Vancouver are operated by commercial hosts, an analysis of the platform’s listings show.

An analysis of 416 randomly extracted listings showed that 317 of them belonged to hosts who were offering multiple Airbnb units.

This finding flies in the face of statements Airbnb made at the City of Vancouver public hearing on short term rentals yesterday.

“The vast majority of our hosts are everyday people and families sharing the extra space at their homes a few nights each month to earn modest supplemental income and for them home sharing is a housing affordability solution,” Alex Dagg, the corporation’s Canadian Policy Lead told the City Council.

Dagg’s statements are inconsistent with both ThinkPol’s findings and those of the Airbnb data scraping web site Inside Airbnb[1]http://insideairbnb.com/vancouver/, which found that 68% all listings are entire homes or apartments.

58% of the listings are available for more than 60 days a year, while 36% are commercial operators.

Even after being presented with a list of commercial operators, Airbnb disputed our findings.

“The majority of Vancouver hosts, more than 80 per cent, only share their primary residences and do so a few nights each month to earn modest, supplemental income,” Airbnb spokesperson Lindsey Scully said. “Airbnb proactively removed more than 130 listings in Vancouver that we believed to be commercial operators and did not meet the standards and priorities of our community, nor the guest experience we seek to provide.”

Airbnb user Vanessa is currently listing 13 entire homes/apartments[2]https://www.airbnb.ca/s?host_id=1340389, while Ash is listing six [3]https://www.airbnb.ca/s?host_id=46945171.

Mj is offering five such units[4]https://www.airbnb.ca/s?host_id=31065, while Alicia[5]https://www.airbnb.ca/s?host_id=109845 and Liliana [6]https://www.airbnb.ca/s?host_id=52118 are both offering four.

Airbnb indicated that they were willing to work with the City of Vancouver to eradicate commercial operators.

“We look forward to continuing to share data and information about our community and to working collaboratively with Mayor Gregor Robertson, Vancouver city staff and all of Vancouver City Council,” Scully added. “We believe we can partner with the city to develop fair, easy-to-follow home-sharing regulations that address key priorities for the city, including any unwelcome commercial operators.”

The second day of public hearing will start today at 6:00PM. Those who wish to speak have until 5PM to register online, or until 5:30PM to register in person[7]http://council.vancouver.ca/20171024/phea20171024ag.htm.

References   [ + ]

13 Responses to 3 in 4 Vancouver Airbnb units run by commercial hosts

  1. JH says:

    The investigation skills of this writer are severely lacking. Too bad they didn’t do their job properly and get the facts straight.

  2. KC says:

    Amy, can you please reveal your selection method of the random listings that you extracted for your analysis? Also, can you please clearly define what you mean by “commercial operators” in your article. It seems to me that you define a commercial operator as a person who has more than 1 listing on Airbnb. However, the operator may not have any affiliation (ie. not the owner or renter) with the properties other than managing the listings. The tone of the article suggests to me that commercial operators are a bad thing. However, can you please explain to me what the difference is if 6 individuals share their own 6 primary residences versus 1 individual managing 6 people’s primary residents – as a commercial operator might do? I think you need to clarify and possibly do more research before grouping everyone who has 1+ Airbnb listing as a negatively connotated “commercial operator.”

    • Thomas F says:

      >can you please explain to me what the difference is if 6 individuals share their own 6 primary residences versus 1 individual managing 6 people’s primary residents – as a commercial operator might do?

      Well, this is making illegal nightly rentals a commodity (that is likely not reported as income for tax), instead of a cash-strapped owner selling a few nights to keep up with their bills. Get it now?

  3. HS says:

    The Inside Airbnb data you refer to actually says, of all 6,651 listings in Vancouver, just 36.5% are from hosts with multiple listings; conversely, 4,225 units — or 63.5% — belong to hosts with only one listing.

    If the definition of a “commercial host” is simply a host with multiple listings, then the opening sentence is clearly wrong: “Three in four Airbnb units available in Vancouver are operated by commercial hosts.” It’s actually closer to 1 in 3 units.

    In fact, you even refer to the correct statistic further into the story: “…while 36% are commercial operators.”

    The random sample used here clearly is not representative of all the units in Vancouver. And there’s no real need to create a random sample because Inside Airbnb (which is the source for this article) has actually crunched the numbers you need.

    • Anonymous says:

      Holy lack of reading comprehension.

      3 in 4 *units* belong to the 64% of the *hosts*.

      416 – 317 = 99

      So 99 units owned by single hosts. I.e. 99 hosts.

      317 owned by (99/64) * 36 = 56 hosts.

      • HC says:

        No. The intro says 3 out of 4 units (317 out of 416, or 76%) belong to hosts who have more than one listing (which becomes the definition of “commercial host”).

        But Inside Airbnb, where she got her numbers, also has stats for the entire city, with a total of 6,651 listings. It says 2,426 units out of 6,651 belong to hosts who have more than one listing. That’s 36.5%.

        The “Listings per host” stat on Inside Airbnb is not actually a measure of hosts. If you hover over the graph on the Inside Airbnb page, you get a description of what it’s measuring: “Number of *listings* where host as X other listings.”

        Both of these stats are measuring *units* — specifically, of the total number of units, how many belong to a host with multiple listings. The Vancouver-wide answer to that question is 36.5%. The total they got from their “randomly extracted listings” is either wrong, or at the very least not representative of what’s actually happening.

  4. HC says:

    No. The intro says 3 out of 4 units (317 out of 416, or 76%) belong to hosts who have more than one listing (which becomes the definition of “commercial host”).

    But Inside Airbnb, where she got her numbers, also has stats for the entire city, with a total of 6,651 listings. It says 2,426 units out of 6,651 belong to hosts who have more than one listing. That’s 36.5%.

    The “Listings per host” stat on Inside Airbnb is not actually a measure of hosts. If you hover over the graph on the Inside Airbnb page, you get a description of what it’s measuring: “Number of *listings* where host as X other listings.”

    Both of these stats are measuring *units* — specifically, of the total number of units, how many belong to a host with multiple listings. The Vancouver-wide answer to that question is 36.5%. The total they got from their “randomly extracted listings” is either wrong, or at the very least not representative of what’s actually happening.

    • Thomas F says:

      Or maybe that’s from the top search results, like how most people would search for a place? It would make sense that the properties that were most available were those in which the principal owner was not actually living there.

  5. Peter says:

    I am a big fan of investigative journalism. In this case, there is a label being applied to two different type of Airbnb operators. There are people who Airbnb out their space/place and have someone else manage it for them. They will hire someone (a small company or individual) to take care of some or all of the operations for them. These companies or individuals are supporting individual owners to manage the Airbnb. This is distinctly different from a company or individual that acquires properties (buy/lrent) and Airbnb’s them. The author has lumped the two together under the label “commercial operator.” It would be more accurate to distinguish between the two.

    Disclosure, I am an Airbnb host with one listing. I have added a friend as a co-host when we are away on holidays to help out with the listing. I’ve also been added as a co-host to help out a neighbor when she was away from her home which had an Airbnb rental.

  6. Erik says:

    NO!! It doesn’t prove that at ALL!

    Lets say I own a unit I am going to rent out on AbnA. Lets say I don’t want the hassles of taking pictures, dealing with complaints, putting the listing up and taking it down, paying taxes, etc. etc. etc. There is EVERY reason for me to forgo 10-20% of the income to have a third party do it for me. Ergo the “commercial” entities.

    Now who the heck knows how much the above and how much actual “commercial listers” who actually OWN multiple properties.

    The ONLY way to get at real data in this debate is to get all Short term rentals registered. Ideally public. Then you can (at least in US, I assume also in Canada) link back to public tax records to see who actually OWNS the unit (and how many) and, ideally, how frequently they rent (and remit) taxes. Nuansce properties could then be determined much more easily (and fines and compliance demanded).

    South Lake Tahoe in California has a system which works and is wort taking a look at. Registration, compliance, and over time they have scaled back where they allow STRs. I

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