The Real Deal New York

Airbnb will provide rental data to City Council

Startup is fighting three regulation proposals

November 03, 2015 09:13AM

From left: Chris Lehane and Jumaane Williams

From left: Chris Lehane and Jumaane Williams

After a contentious hearing with the City Council, Airbnb is playing nice and promising more cooperation, including detailed rental data long sought by lawmakers.

The company’s head of global policy, Chris Lehane, sent a letter to Council member Jumaane Williams reiterating Airbnb’s willingness to crack down on illegal hotels while allowing everyday New Yorkers to use the service legally.

Airbnb, valued at $25.5 billion, is working to defeat three proposals making way through the council. One bill would increase the penalty for violating a 2010 law requiring that an owner must be present if apartments are leased for less than 30 days. A second bill would require the city’s Department of Buildings to submit annual reports on illegal apartment conversions. And a third would remind tenants that they aren’t required to pay rent if their landlords are in violation of the law, Politico reported.

Council members expressed frustration at the hearing when Airbnb representatives failed to present detailed apartment rental data, as they had previously promised.

The data could be used to analyze the number of units rented through the site that are functioning in practice as illegal hotels. The Real Deal attempted a similar analysis using publicly available data last month.

Williams remained skeptical of the company’s approach and also expressed consternation at Airbnb’s penchant to focus on its legal users and play down the illegal hoteliers.

“If this is still insinuating that we are going after people who follow the law that is frustrating because they get to hide behind people who are following the law,” Williams said. “They should stop mentioning people who are doing this legally, and just clarify the law to their users otherwise it’s just intentional confusion.” [Politico]Ariel Stulberg