News / Toronto

Airbnb 'ghost hotels' take scarce housing off GTA market: Report

Nearly 85 per cent of Airbnb revenue in the area comes from renting out entire homes as opposed to spare rooms in shared spaces, the report shows.

Airbnb now accounts for 5 per cent of the hotel market in the GTA, the report says.

AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALLJOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

Airbnb now accounts for 5 per cent of the hotel market in the GTA, the report says.

A new study is raising concerns that Airnbnb is pushing much-needed housing units off the GTA market.

Nearly 85 per cent of Airbnb revenue in the area comes from renting out entire homes as opposed to spare rooms in shared spaces, the study shows.

It’s an indication that people are buying properties specifically for the purpose of running “ghost hotels” — properties reserved for short-term leases.

The problem is three-fold, said Lyle Hall, managing director of HLT Advisory, a consulting firm for the hotel and tourism industry.

“One, you are taking housing stock away from people who live in the community,” he said. “Two, what condo or apartment rules might you be violating or the owner might be violating by renting the place out on a nightly basis?

“Three, what revenue impacts are there to the host community?”

HLT teamed up with Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management for the study. It comes as a new coalition — comprised of labour unions, hotel industry reps and employees and affordable housing advocates — call for city council to regulate Airbnb.

Cities such as Berlin and New York have recently cracked down on listings for entire houses.

“This whole idea of a sharing economy is really nice, but the reality is it’s a booking economy,” said Chris Gibbs, an assistant professor in Ryerson’s hospitality and tourism management program. “Airbnb has become a booking engine no different from Expedia and an insignificant portion of its revenue is coming from what they’ve sort of built their brand on.”

Asked about the report’s numbers, Max Pomeranc, regional head of public policy for Airbnb said the company is “committed to working with all levels of governments in Canada and around the world to ensure that there are clear, easy-to-follow rules for residents that want to share their homes.”

That includes “working with policymakers and providing insight into the makeup of our community — the vast majority of whom are regular people sharing their primary residences — to develop smart, clear and fair home-sharing regulations,” he added.

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