Airbnb-chart
Credit: Cathy Mullaly

Airbnb is an online service that enables people to list or rent short-term accommodations in residential properties. Currently there are over 4,000 listings in the Vancouver area. Some people think Airbnb is good for the city because hosts can use revenue from their rentals to help pay their mortgages or rents and help make the city more affordable to live in. They think people should have the right to rent out their own property on Airbnb regardless of the effects on the long-term rental market. Others think Airbnb is not a good idea for Vancouver because residents are having increasing difficulty finding a place to live and some units that are being rented out through the service could be used for traditional long-term rentals. With this in mind, which of the following statements come closest to your own view?

Majority of residents aged 18 to 34 support short-term rentals

Airbnb is controversial wherever it sets up shop. Last November, the Mustel Group conducted a poll for BCBusiness to find out how Vancouver residents feel about allowing property owners to rent their residence out short-term.

The majority of both owners (53.6 per cent) and non-owners (60.2 per cent) of property in the City of Vancouver said short-term rentals should be discouraged. Evi Mustel, principal of the Mustel Group, was a little surprised by the results. “I thought there was going to be a little bit more empathy for Airbnb, but given the dire straits of our rental market, I think there’s a lot of empathy for the renters,” she says. “I think that’s why you see it’s leaning toward not allowing them or discouraging them.”

Mustel was less surprised that a majority of residents aged 18 to 34 were in favour of short-term rentals while older respondents were not. “They’re the ones that are really dealing the most with the affordability issue." And it's not just owners who rent out their home. It's common for renters to take in guests to support their rent, she says. “They are probably doing it against strata council and against the knowledge of their landlord.” Younger residents are the ones who are struggling the most with high rents, whereas older people are more established in their careers, have a higher income and are likely to own rather than rent, she notes. They also tend to be less flexible. “It takes a certain amount of flexibility to let your primary residence out to a stranger every now and then so it doesn’t surprise me that there’s more support among the youth,” says Mustel.

Mustel interviewed 353 Vancouver residents November 10-28, 2016. The survey was mixed-mode, meaning Mustel collected responses through its online panel and by telephone. Both are considered randomly recruited.