September 8, 2016
As it did to some controversy in New York City earlier this year, Airbnb released data this week regarding its hosts and rentals in Toronto, and Ontario as a whole. The release is part of what Airbnb calls its “community compact”, an initiative that includes stated commitments to “being transparent with our data and information”, as well as “working with our community to prevent short-term rentals from impacting the availability of long-term housing.” That last point is one for which Airbnb has come under a lot of scrutiny, especially in places where the housing market is already stressed. Last year, San Francisco released a report that suggested Airbnb might be taking up as much as 40 per cent of the city’s rental market—a figure a city official said at the time was a “conservative” estimate. There have been similar worries in Vancouver. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Fairbnb, a national coalition of “homeowners, tenants, tourism businesses and labour organizations” (which declares that Airbnb is “invading” neighbourhoods) has labeled Toronto’s waterfront condo buildings “ghost hotels” for the number of apartments that sit vacant of permanent tenants. Into this debate, Airbnb injected more confusion….