Friday July 24, 2015

Does Airbnb make it harder to find an apartment?

AirBnb listings in Toronto

AirBnb listings in Toronto (CBC)

Listen 13:06

You can think of the on-line room-sharing service Airbnb as something like an Uber for apartments.  Just as Uber turns anyone's car into a taxi, Airbnb turns your spare room into a hotel room, or your whole apartment into a suite. It's simple. Hosts list their spaces on the website, and lease them out to people in need of a place to crash. You can find everything from a shared loft to a whole mansion for rent on Airbnb - and even after the service takes its cut, the money adds up.

According to Airbnb, an average host makes about $7,500 every year. For some, Airbnb is a financial life-line enabling them to afford their homes. 

But according to Karen Sawatzky, an Urban Planning masters student at Simon Fraser University, Airbnb is a menace to renters. She claims the company has created a system that prioritises short-term stays for tourists over long-term housing for locals. And while Airbnb's listings increase, vacancy rates for locals are evaporating and the people who actually live in the city are getting pushed to its edges.

As she searches for an apartment in downtown Toronto, Day 6 producer Acey Rowe is feeling the vacancy squeeze. 

In her doc "Can I live here?" Acey looks for answers... and a place to live. 

Special thanks to CBC's Steve Wadhams for his help on this story.