The Real Deal New York

Airbnb calls the de Blasio administration’s lawsuit a “fishing expedition”

City’s subpoena could breach privacy of thousands of users, company claims
July 30, 2018 09:00AM

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky (Credit: Getty and iStock)

Airbnb claims the de Blasio administration is going on a “fishing expedition” as it requests info on thousands of the home-sharing website’s users in Hell’s Kitchen.

The city served the company with a subpoena demanding records related to a $1 million-plus lawsuit the de Blasio administration filed against landlord Big Apple Management, the New York Post reported.

The city is requesting records related to 76 account holders who used the site to list apartments in seven buildings on West 47th Street owned by the landlord.

But Airbnb claims that only seven of the accounts are tied to the lawsuit against Big Apple, and that complying with the subpoena “would result in the disclosure of personal information about scores of hosts and thosuands of guests who have nothing to do with the City’s pending lawsuit.”

“New York law does not permit such fishing expeditions,” Airbnb wrote in a Manhattan Supreme Court filing.

The San Francisco-based company argues that the city is required to show that the information it’s looking for is reasonably related to the investigation, and accuses the administration of bargaining in bad faith.

The city discussed the possibility of limiting the scope of the investigation, only to turn around without warning “just a few hours” later and suing the company, Airbnb claims.

The city sued the company on July 20, along with the sites TripAdvisor and Bookings.com, for not responding to subpoenas. The de Blasio administration claims Big Apple Management turned 26 rent-stabilized apartments into illegal sublets. It’s the 13th lawsuit the city’s filed against a building owner for illegal sublets.

The City Council earlier this month unanimously passed a bill that requires Airbnb to disclose the names and addresses of its hosts, or face fines for each listing it doesn’t disclose. [NYP] – Rich Bockmann