Airbnb is removing rental housing in Canadian cities and rural areas

Comparative analysis of Airbnb activity across Canada shows impact on housing affordability of the American online short-term rental marketplace
David Wachsmuth, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning

The American online marketplace Airbnb has likely removed approximately 31,100 units from Canada’s long-term rental markets. This could make it difficult for Canadian cities and provinces to prevent growing housing affordability issues.

In the first comprehensive analysis of Airbnb in Canada, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, David Wachsmuth, and his team found that Airbnb activity is currently concentrated in major cities. However, they also observed that short-term rental is growing and removing housing from long-term market faster in rural areas and small cities across the country.

The authors argue that cities and provinces will need to intervene on behalf of smaller communities which have fewer resources and less leverage to regulate short-term rental activities.

Here are the key findings of their forthcoming study to be published in the Canadian Journal of Urban Research:

  • Nearly half of all active Airbnb listings are located in the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver metropolitan areas
  • Airbnb listings and revenue are growing about twice as fast in small cities and rural areas as they are in big cities
  • Housing pressure disproportionately affects cities in British Columbia
  • The top 10 per cent hosts earn a majority of all revenue in the country
  • In Montreal, over 30 per cent of all Airbnb revenue is earned by just 1 per cent of its hosts
  • Almost half of all Airbnb revenue last year was generated by commercial operators who manage multiple listings
  • 31,000 entire homes were rented frequently enough last year that they are unlikely to house a permanent resident

Even though a number of cities are currently studying or have already implemented new regulations, the authors say it is too early to comment on the effectiveness of those regulations. In Quebec, for example, short-term rental hosts must register with the province, but as of March 2017, fewer than five per cent were certified and thus paying Quebec’s provincial accommodations tax.

Read the study