Airbnb may have deleted more than 1,000 NYC listings before releasing data late last year in an attempt to present a more positive picture to the public.
Last November, Airbnb released a “transparency pledge” promising to play nice with cities, follow their rules and make more information about the economics of its business model available to the public. This pledge was followed a month later by a year’s worth of data that seemed to show that most Airbnb hosts are renting out their spaces legally.
But an independent report released Wednesday says otherwise, claiming the company “misled the media and the public” by removing illegal listings from its site in November before making the data available. Once the company got good press from its data dump, the report claims that the number of illegal listings on the site began to tic back up almost immediately.
New York state law bans apartment rentals of fewer than 30 days unless a permanent occupant is present. Since hosts with multiple listings cannot be present in all their apartments at once, their short-term, full apartment rentals are illegal. While Airbnb claimed that “95 percent of our entire home hosts share only one listing,” the report found that this was true for “less than two weeks of the year.”
Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, told the New York Times, “If this analysis is accurate, it appears that Airbnb is again trying to downplay the number of illegal apartment listings on the site.
“Airbnb continues to show a blatant disregard for New York laws designed to protect the rights of tenants and prevent the proliferation of illegal hotels.”