Majority of Vancouver Airbnb hosts are commercial operators: research

WATCH: A UBC student says his study of the effect of Airbnb on Vancouver's rental market has uncovered some troubling details. Nadia Stewart reports.

A UBC geography student says many Airbnb hosts in Vancouver don’t actually live in the homes they’re posting on the popular site.

Iain Marjoribanks says he believes many Airbnb listings in Vancouver are not from casual hosts who rent out rooms or entire homes when they’re on vacation. Instead, he says he believes they’re “commercial hosts who are operating multiple sites or who are listing a single site year-round.”

According to Marjoribanks’ research, large commercial operators make up 77 per cent of the revenue Airbnb generates in the city.

READ MORE: Short-term rental problems in Vancouver? Berlin may have a solution

“I’m just hoping the public can become more aware of what’s going on at Airbnb and what the company actually is as opposed to what it pretends to be,” he said.

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The real challenge is enforcing the city’s bylaws, which such listings violate. However, Airbnb protects hosts’ anonymity, making it difficult to know who these hosts really are, Marjoribanks said.

City staff are studying the site’s impact on Vancouver.

READ MORE: Vancouver may be cracking down on illegal Airbnb listings

The BC Chamber of Commerce says as long as Airbnb is operating in B.C., the province should be collecting its fair share of taxes. Hotels and bed and breakfasts charge provincial sales tax. Many Airbnb hosts don’t.

“Those taxes get reinvested back into the community for destination marketing which can attract more tourists to their communities,” Dan Baxter, the chamber’s director of policy development, said.

Global News contacted Airbnb for a response and did not receive a reply to our request for comment.

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