Almost all Airbnb units are illegal: Attorney General

Nearly three quarters of listings violate zoning or other laws, report finds

Airbnb founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky
Airbnb founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky

UPDATED October 16, 10:30 a.m.: Almost three quarters of the city’s Airbnb rentals are in violation of zoning or other laws, according to a report that will be released today by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

According to the report, commercial operators — rather than residents trying to make ends meet — manage more than a third of the units and account for more than a third of the revenue, according to the New York Times. The report found that 6 percent of the hosts made 37 percent of the revenue.

Most of the rentals are located in three Manhattan neighborhoods — Lower East Side/Chinatown, Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen and Greenwich Village/SoHo — while the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island account for only 3 percent, or $12 million. The report also found that a dozen buildings had more than half of their units used as rentals for at least half the year, according to the newspaper.

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The report is based on 497,322 private stays in 35,354 unique places for less than 30 days that did not involve a shared room, according to the newspaper.

Airbnb did not outright dispute the report, which is based on four years of data that Airbnb handed over to the attorney general. A statement from Airbnb did say that “the report’s conclusions rely on incomplete and outdated information.” Airbnb said it already removed more than 2,000 listings in New York, stating that “every single home, apartment, co-op and living space in New York is subject to a myriad of rules, so it’s impossible to make this kind of blanket statement.”

We should not deny thousands of New Yorkers the chance to share their homes, pay their bills and stay in the city they love,” Airbnb said in the statement. [NYT] — Claire Moses