New regulations might benefit Vancouver long-term rental supply

In the four months since Vancouver’s new real estate regulations came into effect on September 2018, a little over 300 homes have returned to the market’s long-term rental supply, after previously being used as full-time Airbnb units.

The new study by McGill University researchers asserted that this volume was sufficient to nudge up Vancouver’s vacancy rate, which fell to as low as 0.7% in 2016.

Furthermore, if all 1,800 homes classified as full-time Airbnb listings prior to September 2018 go back to the rental segment, vacancy will increase by an estimated 1%.

Co-author David Wachsmuth stated that these figures attest to the volatility of the province’s housing situation. By many metrics, British Columbia is Canada’s hottest residential real estate market at present.

“The housing affordability and rental vacancy stats is systematically so much worse in B.C., including in the smaller communities, compared to the rest of the country,” Wachsmuth told Star Vancouver, adding that governments at higher levels should take responsibility and handle the problem, instead of just leaving municipalities on their own to manage the situation.

“If you look at the rest of the (census metropolitan area), the full-time listings have accelerated,” Wachsmuth explained. “It’s kind of two steps forward, one step back. Richmond and Surrey are now getting more of this activity.”

The McGill University study also found that more than 31,000 homes across Canada were used for Airbnb rental so frequently in 2018 that they have likely become unavailable as part of long-term rental supply.

The figure was contested by Airbnb, which said that the study was nowhere near being an accurate assessment since the information was gathered only via Airbnb’s data published online.

“We don’t agree with the validity of that number,” Airbnb Canada director of public policy Alex Dagg said. “[They have] no way of knowing those houses or those units would ever be on the long-term rental market.”

“Without all the information, faulty assumptions are made about our hosts and how they use our platform,” communications officer Lindsey Scully added.


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