Data company cited in comptroller's Airbnb report refutes findings
Comptroller Stringer's report cites AirDNA data, but the company says his office interpreted that data incorrectly.
After New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a report saying that Airbnb led to more than $600 million in added cost for renters in the city, the data company cited in the report has refuted the findings.
Analytics company AirDNA, which bills itself as the “world’s leading provider of Airbnb data and analytics” and is not affiliated with Airbnb, said on Friday that the comptroller’s report incorrectly interprets their data.
The comptroller’s office did not reach out to AirDNA for clarification or analysis on how to read their data, the company said. In response, a spokesperson from the comptroller's office said in a statement that it "operates independently and performs unbiased analyses of data we deem reliable and consistent."
One error, according to AirDNA, lies in the comptroller’s classification of every New York City Airbnb listing uploaded on the site as one that was active in 2016, the year the report says New Yorkers endured the added costs.
“A large portion of Airbnb listings are not active,” according to AirDNA. “They sit idly on the site, made unavailable for rent by hosts and/or unbooked by guests, and therefore have little to no effect on rent prices.”
There are three listing types on Airbnb: entire home, private room and shared room. The private or shared room listings, AirDNA says, do not remove a unit from the city’s housing market, since the host still lives there full time.
AirDNA went further, noting that their data shows that more than half of the New York City Airbnb listings were rented out just one to three months in the last year, “suggesting that they are part-time, seasonal rentals, rented while a host is away on holiday or if an apartment is between tenancy agreements, for example.”
The comptroller's office said that based on the availble AirDNA information, "our conclusion would be the same whether apartments were listed part-time or full-time on Airbnb."
AirDNA CEO Scott Shatford accused the report of using Airbnb as a "scapegoat" for the housing crisis.
"In New York City, just over 5,300 ‘entire homes’ were rented on Airbnb for six months or more in the past year, representing 0.2 percent of the total housing supply," he said in a statement. "It is impossible for Airbnb to have a material impact on rental prices.”
The comptroller's report states that Airbnb is responsible for 9.2 percent of the increase in housing costs.
Airbnb refuted the report when it came out Thursday as well, and has since filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the comptroller’s office, asking for “any and all communications” around the development of the report. In a statement Chris Lehane, head of Global Policy at Airbnb, called the foundation of the report "flawed."
"Assuming that all Airbnb Hosts are renting their homes 365 nights a year is akin to conducting a traffic study that assumes all cars in New York are on the road all day, every day,” he said.
But the report is not meant to put 100 percent of the blame for rising housing costs on Airbnb's back, according to the comptroller's office, nor imply that the option of house sharing should be taken away from New Yorkers completely.
"The recent increase in supply of rental housing, and evidence of softening of rents, is welcome news. Our analysis covered 2009 to 2016, and by that time, the damage by Airbnb to affordability was already done," a spokesperson from the comptroller's office said in a statement. "We are not disputing the right of homeowners or renters to lawfully rent space in their apartments..But the lack of transparency and enforcement in this industry is resulting in abuses that are undeniably and measurably impacting affordability in our city."