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New site could shed light on illegal Airbnb listings

A new website is mapping out all 27,392 Airbnb listings in New York City, and could reveal that more than 50 percent of listings are illegal.

Airbnb, which allows users to rent rooms in their homes or their entire apartment, is called a “sharing economy” by fans and “ illegal hotels” by opponents.

The mapping website, called Inside Airbnb, was created by Brooklyn software engineer Murray Cox, and is billed as an “independent, non-commercial, open source data tool.”

According to the site, about 58 percent of listings are for entire residences, with about 10,000 located in Manhattan. A state law prohibits owners of most apartment buildings from renting out their apartments for fewer than 30 days.

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Airbnb renters are not charged the city’s 5.875 percent hotel occupancy tax, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman previously estimated the site owes $33 million in taxes.

Inside Airbnb uses public data pulled from the site, including the user’s first name, neighborhood, price of stay and minimum required nights to book. Private information is not revealed, according to Cox.

Last fall, a report by Schneiderman said Airbnb made $40 million on illegal listings, and 70 percent of all units on the site were listed illegally.

Cox wrote on the website that he launched the project while working with a non-profit group to teach Brooklyn youth about gentrification using mapping technology.

 
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