News Local

Airbnb is a problem, not a solution for Metro Vancouver homeowners, renters and cities

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

(Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Airbnb)

(Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Airbnb)

“Unregulated hotels operated in residential properties are disruptive to communities and pose serious safety concerns for guests and neighbors.”

* AirBNB Watch website

Poor Airbnb! The “home sharing” multinational business valued at $25.5 billion is being picked on by mean old city councils around the world!

Watching current television advertising in B.C., you might think Airbnb is practically a charity, helping out cash-strapped homeowners while providing tourists with budget accommodation and friendly experiences all over the world.

But that’s not what Airbnb is about. Airbnb is a problem – not a solution – for many homeowners as well as renters, neighbourhoods, cities and the hotel industry.

In my strata condominium, we recently passed tough new bylaws to outright ban Airbnb.

Why? Because our building owners didn’t buy a condo to see a revolving door of constantly changing guests all year – we want neighbours and a community.

Because there are serious safety concerns about having unknown, unreported visitors having full access to our building.

Nor do we want hundreds of people with no concern for or stake in the upkeep of our building traipsing the halls.

And most of all, because our building is not a hotel – it’s our home.

For renters, Metro Vancouver’s extremely low vacancy rate of 0.6% and brutally high rents means Airbnb takes potential long-term rental properties off the market – because owners can make more money with pseudo hotels.

So Vancouver is taking legal action against an Airbnb operator, with more lawsuits likely.

It’s no wonder the city is concerned – there are 4,728 Vancouver listings – and 67% are entire homes or apartments, with one-third of hosts offering multiple listings.

But Airbnb is all about making a lot of money. It now has 2.5 million listings in 191 countries and 79 million “room nights” booked per year – and could grow to one billion by 2025.

Without following the rules and respecting neighbours, their business model is simply wrong.

You can’t drill for oil in your backyard or put a giant neon advertising sign on your roof – nor should you be able to run a hotel from your home.

Those rules have to be followed for the protection of both owners, neighbours and visitors – and that must be the guiding principle, not increasing Airbnb’s monster profits at others’ expense.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at http://billtieleman.blogspot.com or Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman