Toronto residents are generally supportive of regulating Airbnb but those who have actually used the service in the last 12 months are more divided on the question, a new poll has found.
The Forum Research poll of 966 Toronto voters found that 47 per cent of respondents want the service regulated compared to 20 per cent who oppose regulation. Another 33 per cent of respondents said they didn’t have an opinion.
The results are, however, more mixed among the 130 respondents who said that they had actually used Airbnb in the last 12 months.
The plurality of those people - 41 per cent – still said they supported regulation but a much higher percentage – 38 per cent – said they opposed it. Another 20 per cent did not offer an opinion.
City staff are currently preparing a report, which is expected to include draft regulations for Airbnb and services like it. That report is expected sometime in the spring.
“Most haven’t used Airbnb in the past year, but the plurality thinks it should be regulated in Toronto,” Forum Research President Dr. Lorne Bozinoff said in a press release announcing the results of the poll. “Even those who use it think so, but the margin between yes and no is much narrower amongst users, than non-users.”
Support for regulating Airbnb tended to be higher among residents in downtown Toronto (51 per cent) and Etobicoke (50 per cent) and lower among residents in North York (46 per cent) and Scarborough (39 per cent), though in the case of Scarborough more than half of respondents didn’t offer an opinion.
There was also an economic divide.
Wealthier residents, who earn between $100,000 and $200,000 a year, were more likely to support regulation with 57 per cent of that group endorsing the concept. Meanwhile, only 29 per cent of those earning less than $20,000 a year said they supported regulation.
Airbnb has previously said that 9,460 rooms or entire units in Toronto were rented on the platform in 2015.
The proliferation of the service has caused some, including Mayor John Tory, to speculate on whether the service is causing a reduction in the rental supply in the city and thus exacerbating an affordable housing crisis.
Last week, Tory also told CP24 that Airbnb could be a factor in a reduction in housing listings in the city that has been blamed for the rise in real estate prices.
The poll is considered accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.