AG finds more than 70% of Airbnb listings "illegal" - Metro US

AG finds more than 70% of Airbnb listings “illegal”

Airbnb Schneiderman A new report by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found some 72 percent of listings violated city and state laws. Photo credit: Getty Images

A new report on the home sharing website Airbnb by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office has concluded some 72 percent of Airbnb rentals violated New York law.

The report, called “Airbnb in the City,” is based on subpoenaed data on Airbnb bookings from January 2010 to June 2014, given to the attorney general’s office in April.

Earlier this year, Schneiderman demanded the company submit information on all New York users on the site. Eventually, Airbnb submitted redacted data on 16,000 users, and specific information on 124. An anonymous group of Airbnb users, called “New Yorkers Making Ends Meet in the Sharing Economy,” recently sued the company, saying they should deal with the attorney general and leave the users out of the dispute.

Among the key findings of the report are 25,532 of a total 35,354 “private, short-term listings” violated either city or state multiple dwelling or zoning laws. According to the report, Airbnb hosts collected about $304 million from the “illegal listings,” and the company pocketed about $40 million.

The report found Airbnb’s “most prolific” commercial user controlled 272 different listings on the site, booking 3,024 reservations and making $6.8 million in under five years.

“That host is not on our site,” Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas wrote in an email to Metro on Thursday.

The attorney general’s report also found more than 100 users rented out more than 10 apartments each, netting $59.4 million. The report found about 200 units were used as “illegal hostels” in 2013, with multiple guests sharing rooms on the same night.

More than 40 percent of revenue came from listings in three Manhattan areas: Greenwich Village/SoHo, Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen and the Lower East Side/Chinatown. Reservations in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island accounted for less than 3 percent of the total revenue in the city.

Schneiderman also concluded the rentals are taking away from long-term housing. The attorney general also said his office would be joining with multiple city agencies to “investigate and shut down illegal hotels in the five boroughs.”

Airbnb spokesman Papas said in a statement the attorney general’s report used “incomplete and outdated information,” and the “findings do not account for the more than 2,000 listings we have already removed from our community in New York.”

“Additionally, every single home, apartment, co-op and living space in New York is subject to a myriad of rules, so it’s impossible to make this kind of blanket statement. That kind of uncertainty and lack of clarity is exactly why we’re advocating for clear, fair rules for home sharing,” Papas said, adding the company is looking to work with New York on “sensible rules” to “stop bad actors” and “protect regular people who simply want to share their home.”

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