Airbnbs and the housing shortage


(Image: Inside Airbnb)

We have a crisis-level housing shortage, with a rock-bottom vacancy rate that is causing sky-high rents. At the same time, literally hundreds of Airbnb units are not available to renters.

Some Airbnb owners rent out their entire condo, suite or house basically all the time, because it makes more money than renting it out to residents. Every one of those units could be a home for Victoria workers or families.

This isn’t isolated, short-term rentals – where a homeowner goes on vacation and rents out their home for a few weeks. And it isn’t a room or two being rented out in a home to make ends meet. This is whole-unit rentals that are getting rented out frequently.

So how many rentals are we talking about? Inside Airbnb has the data. Within the City of Victoria, there are 559 “entire home/apartment” listings that recently were frequently booked.


Image: Inside Airbnb


It would be great to have every one of those 559 units on the market for long-term residents of Victoria. It would help a lot of people.

So how big is the shortage? Would those 559 units take care of the problem?

No. Far from it. Unfortunately, the shortage is much, much larger – 4,800 to 6,300 units

(Data source: City of Victoria, “Housing Strategy Annual Review 2021“) 


It would be great to have those 559 units on the Victoria housing market. Victoria passed a bylaw in 2018 preventing any more of those types of rentals, but provincial law* allows or “grandfathers” the ones that existed up to that point in time.

I would like to see the law changed to phase out the grandfathered units if possible. But even if we completely got rid of them today, we would still have a very big housing shortage, a continued low vacancy rate, and sky-high rents.

The bottom line is that we need to build more housing.

* Local Government Act, Part 14 — Planning and Land Use Management, Division 14 — Non-conforming Use and Other Continuations

I’m very interested in your thoughts on the housing shortage. Let me know when you have a moment.