City issues subpoena for 20K apartment listings on Airbnb

Airbnb is suing the city over a listing-sharing requirement
February 20, 2019 09:07AM

Mayor Bill De Blasio (Credit: Getty Images and Airbnb)

New York City has issued a subpoena to Airbnb demanding the short-term rental site hand over the details of 20,000 apartment listings in the city.

In a bid to side-step a court order blocking the city’s efforts to access Airbnb’s data, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that the subpoena could help identify “illegal hotels” in the city, where entire buildings are being rented out by Airbnb hosts.

“We want to make sure that something that is supposed to be an occasional business is not a full-time business, which would mean it should be listed as a business,” de Blasio told NY1 Spectrum news. “People want to know what the hell is going on.”

He said the move has in part been prompted by Airbnb’s unwillingness to cooperate with the city’s demands to crackdown on defacto hotels.

In a letter responding to the mayor’s comment, Airbnb said it has removed 5,000 listings in New York through its “One Host, One Home” policy here, which prevents hosts from listing more than one property on the site. The company implemented the policy in New York in 2016.

The site has pushed for a blueprint to be implemented akin to the agreements the site has with other cities, including Philadelphia and San Francisco, where it has drawn up data agreements to pass on tax revenue to the cities, according to Housing Wire.

Amid lobbying from the hotel industry and affordable housing advocates, the state introduced a law last year that made it illegal to advertise rentals less than 30 days in unoccupied homes. Another city law that would have forced Airbnb to hand over the identities of all its listings was blocked by a federal judge last month.

The ongoing battle between the city and the short-term rental company has steadily escalated. Last week, a Brooklyn assemblywoman claimed white constituents in her district were being followed home by the city’s Office of Special Enforcement agents.

Buildings across the city have been raided by the city agents, shutting down dozens of listings. On the Far West Side, the Atelier luxury residential condominium building was raided last November, and issued almost two dozen violations. [NY1, Housing Wire] — David Jeans