Airbnb Under Pressure, Agrees To Hand Over Data To NY's Attorney General

from the makes-ny-less-interesting-to-visit dept

As we've discussed a few times, NY's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has been trying to go on a fishing expedition through Airbnb's records, looking for what he calls "illegal hotels." Of course, he's more or less admitted that he's doing this to protect big NYC hotels from being disrupted. Last week, Airbnb actually won in court, quashing Schneiderman's subpoena, though Schniederman just turned around and issued a new subpoena to deal with the deficiencies of the first one.

Recognizing that it was going to run into issues eventually, Airbnb has worked out a "settlement" with Schneiderman, in which it will provide anonymous data, but if Schneiderman finds information that he thinks indicates an "illegal hotel" he can go back to the company to get identifying information. Airbnb says it hopes that Schneiderman is really just focused on true large-scale abusers, many of which it has already removed from the system itself:
The Attorney General's Office will have one year to review the anonymized data and receive information from us about individual hosts who may be subject to further investigation. We believe the Attorney General's Office is focused on large corporate property managers and hosts who take apartments off the market and disrupt communities. We have already removed more than 2,000 listings in New York and believe that many of the hosts the Attorney General is concerned about are no longer a part of Airbnb.
As I've mentioned in the past, I've used Airbnb to find places to stay in NYC a few times now, and it's been an absolutely wonderful experience, significantly better and more convenient than staying in Manhattan hotels. The accommodations, location and service were all significantly better. At least two of the hosts whose places I've stayed at own multiple apartments and rent them out via Airbnb, and it seems ridiculous that they might be shut down because of this. Yes, there are specific "hotel" regulations in NYC, but it seems silly to apply most of them to these kinds of small businesses, where the platform and competition do a great job of keeping them honest. The hosts always seemed to go out of their way to make sure that staying at their apartments was a great experience worth coming back again in the future. Yes, it's possible that some people are somehow abusing the system, but it seems likely that plenty of small time entrepreneurs are going to get swept up in this effort to protect big hotels from disruption.
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Filed Under: anonymous data, apartment rentals, disruption, eric schneiderman, illegal hotels, ny, nyc
Companies: airbnb

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  1. icon
    Groaker (profile), 22 May 2014 @ 3:44am

    Issues like this are always a potential problem when two individuals contract. But I repeat, these types of rentals predate the internet, and have been in existence for a very long time. Given that, I must assume that they work. I have used them myself on a number of occasions, and never been dissatisfied.

    There is no lawful obligation to make such a rental friendly to the disabled, which is opposed to that of a hotel. There is no obligation to install an elevator for a building owner to install an elevator in a four floor walkup. If it is an issue for the lessee, then it is the obligation of the lessee to include that guarantee in the contract. The law does not exist to protect everyone from everything that can occur between two contracting individuals. Those become civil matters. The provision of linens, dinnerware, and other items are specified ahead of time. There is never a guarantee of a nice fluffy pillow at less than upper class hotels.

    The law has long distinguished between large occupancy hotels, apartment BUILDING owners, Co-ops, etc, and that which is permisable in the rental of a single family unit between two individuals.

    In short, your arguments are strawmen. Some people want to control how others use their property because they might find the lessee offensive. Or perhaps the neighbors may fear become anxious. Guess what. There is no right to be free of be free of self generated fear.

    In fact, no one knows that they are not living next to a serial killer right now. Indeed, we know that some people are.

    If someone found short term rentals objectionable, then it was their obligation not to buy/lease in a building that allowed them. To make such a complaint now is an attempt to rewrite a contract.

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