More than half of Vancouver Airbnb hosts use income to pay rent, mortgage: study

More than half of the people who rent out their homes do so to afford their cost of living.

Iain Marjoribanks. Photo by The Canadian Press.

The home−sharing service Airbnb says it doesn’t believe it’s having a negative impact on rental vacancies in Vancouver.

A new report released by the company Thursday based on 2015 statistics says that more than half of the people who rent out their homes do so to afford their cost of living.

"It shows the majority of people in Vancouver are doing this on occasion and doing this as supplemental income," says Max Pomeranc, Airbnb’s regional head of public policy.

There are over 4,200 active Airbnb hosts in Vancouver.

The report says the average host makes an income of about $6,500 annually by occasionally renting out space and uses at least half of what it makes to pay for their rent or mortgage, or to cover the cost of household items like groceries.

More than a quarter of listings were for private or shared rooms in 2015, with the rest listed as entire homes.

The report says more than 80 per cent of all listings were shared for less than 180 days, with only three per cent of listings shared for more than 300 days.

Airbnb says the statistics signal that people aren’t keeping properties vacant to profit on sharing but rather are listing their space when they’re away.

The report is part of the company’s attempt to measure its impact on communities globally to ensure short−term rentals aren’t having an effect on the long−term housing market.

The report is designed to answer questions posed by the City of Vancouver regarding how the service is used by renters and visitors.

"It also demonstrates why it is important to have a thoughtful conversation about regulation, which we support," Pomeranc says.

In cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, Pomeranc says discussions around the impact of Airbnb have led to new policies that protect the rights of residents to rent their homes and regulate vacation rentals and similar businesses.

"The reason for this conversation is to make sure... we all get together and figure out the type of home sharing that is best for Vancouver."

The findings in the report are based on Airbnb’s annual statistics and a user survey.

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