Displacement by disruption: short-term rentals and the political economy of “belonging anywhere” in Toronto

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Abstract

Using data from the consulting firm Airdna, I map Airbnb listing activity in the City of Toronto between June 2016 to May 2017 to assess claims that short-term rental platforms might be implicated in displacing local renter communities. I find that the majority of Airbnb’s revenue within the city derives from full-time, commercially-oriented hosts operating in select downtown neighbourhoods, noting that these findings run up against discourses of sharing and belonging frequently advanced by sharing economy platforms like Airbnb. Instead, I argue the platform creates significant incentives for investors and landlords to pursue greater rental profits in the tourism market where they might otherwise house stable, local tenants. I conclude by discussing how an expanding and digitalized short-term rental industry is now both a symptom and driver of processes of gentrification and socio-spatial polarization in contemporary cities, contextualizing its emergence as part of a broader trend towards the financialization of housing.

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APA

Grisdale, S. (2021). Displacement by disruption: short-term rentals and the political economy of “belonging anywhere” in Toronto. Urban Geography, 42(5), 654–680. https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2019.1642714

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