Airbnb Will Help NYC Track Down Illegal Rentals, And Other Cities Could Be Next
Last week, Airbnb came to an agreement with the city about how to share that data without totally throwing privacy out the window. Airbnb has agreed to share the data in two phases. First, Airbnb will give the city anonymised data for more than 17,000 listings between January 1, 2018, and February 18, 2019.
These involve listings that were listed as “entire units”, “private rooms” and “shared rooms” with a maximum guest occupancy of three or more, for a stay totalling less than 30 consecutive days. The way the city’s short-term rental laws go, it’s illegal to rent out an entire apartment unless it’s to a maximum of two guests, while the owner is present.
New York cracked down even further back in 2016 with a law that prevents advertising rentals that violate the existing law.
Once receiving the data, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) can then request de-anonymised data for specific listings that are likely to be illegal. In that event, the OSE would receive identifying data like addresses, total days booked, payout information, emails, and phone numbers.
Beyond the effect it could have on hosts in NYC, the agreement is significant in that it could lead to a ripple effect in other cities that have started cracking down on Airbnb. Cities like Paris, Barcelona, and Santa Monica have tough restrictions on Airbnb rentals.
In Japan, nearly 80 per cent of Airbnbs were axed last year in response to new regulations. It’s possible that local governments in these areas might take a gander at the NYC agreement and decide they’d like the same arrangement.
That could have some positive effects—mainly deterring illegal hotels while allowing regulatory breathing room for your Average Joe who earns a few extra bucks off of an empty room. Ideally.
“We have long said that we want to work with the City on an effective regulatory framework and we recognise data sharing is an important part of that,” an Airbnb spokesperson told Gizmodo over email.
“We hope that our compliance with this subpoena—by providing data in line with our shared enforcement priorities against illegal hotel operators—is a first step toward finding such a solution that is consistent with Airbnb’s legal rights and obligations, and allows us to share the kind of actionable data with the level of precision that the City needs.”
In the meantime, it’s probably to double or triple check that the Airbnb you’re staying in is legal. And if all else fails, you could scheme to win the lottery and stay at that apartment-style hotel Airbnb is opening in Rockefeller Plaza. Though, at that point, just get a hotel room.