Airbnb’s popularity takes Vancouver by surprise

Until a couple of months ago, the residents of Vancouver’s Alexander Row didn’t know much about the wildly popular short-term rental service Airbnb.

“I thought Airbnb was more like a home-exchange type of thing, where people from other countries come … and you exchange homes,” said Charlene Brooks, who owns one of six row houses in the small Gastown development.

But she learned exactly how Airbnb works when her husband received a note from someone interested in buying a neighbour’s home. The potential buyer wanted assurances from the other owners that they’d be fine with him listing the suite on Airbnb, something he’d done a whopping 65 times over an 18-month period in his current condo.

“That’s when we realized that this was something that we didn’t want,” Brooks said, explaining that the idea of allowing a revolving door of strangers into the building made her nervous.

She was surprised to learn that Vancouver’s

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