Judge tosses Schneiderman’s subpoena of Airbnb

Short-term rental startup hopes to work with AG in the future, spokesperson says

New York /
May.May 13, 2014 06:00 PM

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman vowed to continue his attempts to investigate Airbnb users on Tuesday after a state Supreme Court judge threw out the subpoena he issued the roomsharing startup.

A spokesperson for Schneiderman, Matt Mittenhal, told Business Insider the court’s ruling was based on a “narrow technical issue” and the attorney general plans to re-issue the subpoena Wednesday. The subpoena requested records of hosts offering rooms on the site in an effort to identify violators of a 2010 New York law that prohibits renters from subletting entire apartments for less than 30 days at a time in buildings with three apartments or more.

“Our office is committed to enforcing a law that provides vital protections for building residents and tourists alike. The judge rejected all of AirBnb’s arguments except for a narrow technical issue, and we will reissue the subpoena to address it,” Mittenhal said in an email.

Schneiderman’s office maintains illegal listings on Airbnb are widespread. In his statement, Mittenhal pointed to the fact Airbnb removed thousands of listings on the site after Schneiderman filed an affidavit in support of the subpoena last month.

“The judge’s decision specifically found evidence that a ‘substantial’ number of Airbnb hosts may be violating the tax laws and the law that prohibits illegal hotels,” said Mittenhal. “This comes as no surprise, given that Airbnb itself removed some 2,000 New York-based listings from its site.”

Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas issued a statement after the ruling describing the judge’s decision as “good news.” Papas added the company hoped it could work together with Schneiderman in the future.

“This decision is good news for New Yorkers who simply want to share their home and the city they love. Now, it’s time for us to work together,” Papas said. “Airbnb hosts and the Attorney General share a common goal: we all want to Make New York A Better Place to live, work and visit. We look forward to continuing to work with the Attorney General’s Office to make New York stronger for everyone.”


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