Real Estate & Property Law

Airbnb will provide anonymous user data in New York’s investigation of illegal hotels


The home-rental website Airbnb has agreed to turn over anonymous user data in a New York probe of violations of a state hotel law that bars short-term apartment rentals.

The website will give the anonymous data to New York Attorney General Schneiderman, according to the agreement (PDF). Airbnb will turn over identifying information, however, for users who in the next year become a subject of investigation by the state. The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), Business Insider, CNNMoney and Bloomberg have stories.

Airbnb, which launched in 2008, matches travelers with people who have rooms for rent. Schneiderman’s office had sought information on about 15,000 people in New York City who rented out apartments through the website. A judge ruled last week in a challenge by Airbnb that Schneiderman’s subpoena was too broad, but a narrower subpoena would be acceptable, according to Airbnb public policy head David Hantman, who wrote about the agreement on Airbnb’s blog.

“We believe the Attorney General’s Office is focused on large corporate property managers and hosts who take apartments off the market and disrupt communities,” Hantman wrote. “We have already removed more than 2,000 listings in New York and believe that many of the hosts the Attorney General is concerned about are no longer a part of Airbnb.”

Airbnb has also agreed to require hosts who list property to click on information about New York State’s multiple dwelling law, which prohibits short-term rentals of apartments for fewer than 30 days, unless the permanent occupant of the apartment is also present. The information also explains that state and New York City laws may impose taxes on such rentals.

Prior coverage:

ABA Journal: “Website raises legal questions about homeowners and tenants hosting travelers”

ABAJournal.com: “Using Airbnb to rent apartments for short-term stays violates law, says NY judge”

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