Only 5% of Vancouver Airbnb listings deactivated


City of Vancouver’s short term accommodation bylaw fully came into force today. There was much talk of “2,000” Airbnb units being deactivated. But did it really happen?


It appears that Airbnb has deactivated approximately 5% of the listings that were active on August 31.


I took a random sample 832 of City of Vancouver hosts on Airbnb August 31 between 4pm and 6pm Pacific Time.


218 out of the 832 (27%) of them were without licences and facing deactivation. I ran a follow up today between 1pm and 2pm. Here’s what I found


Table1: What happened to the listings without licenses on Aug 31

New State Number Percentage
Deactivated 45 21%
Converted 30+ Days 163 75%
Licence obtained last minute 10 5%
Total 218 100%


That means approximately 5% of Airbnb listings that were active in my sample have been delisted. If we go by Jens von Bergmann’s figure of 4,700 total listings1), that works out to about 250 listings being taken off the platform.


But the number of people who are cheating the system far exceed the number of listings yanked from the platform. I’m currently collecting data post-purge, and here’s what I have found with my fresh sample of 1,634 listings collected so far today.


Table 2: Summary of problems with licences


Status Count Percentage
Licence used multiple times 459 28%
“Exempt” but less than 30 nights 73 4%
Obviously fake 17 1%
Not found in CoV database 152 9%
Valid 933 57%
Total 1634 100%


459  listings, or 28%, share a licence with one or more other listings. This means that Airbnb and City have done nothing to crackdown on commercial operators.


Licences for 152, or 9%, did not appear in the City of Vancouver business license database.


73 out of the  832 listings in my sample, or 4%, claimed to be “Exempt” even though they were for less than 30 days. Further 17 listings, or 1%, had obviously fake license numbers such as 00-0000. This means 11% of the listings are either fake or are claiming to be exempt when they probably aren’t.


In summary, the “great purge” did not happen. Even amongst the listings with licences, 43% are problematic.


A lot of these problems can be solved by introducing license auto-verification2)


I’m happy to share my SQL database if anyone wants to play around with it. Just get in touch with me.


Here’s a nify two-liner to extract City of Vancouver short term rental licences from the Open Data portal Json file.

import json
stral = [f['properties']['LicenceNumber'] for f in json.load(open("/path/to/Politics/business_licences.json"))['features'] if f['properties']["BusinessType"] is not None and 'Short-Term Rental' in f['properties']["BusinessType"]]

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