Airbnb has finally decided to settle it long-running lawsuit with regulators in New York City. The short-stay rental platform has agreed to hand over personal data about its hosts — like their phone numbers and email addresses, along with a full list of every home they’re putting on the platform — in order to help city authorities track down those that flout the city’s regulations.
As first reported by Bloomberg, Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk reportedly told the city’s hosts earlier today that it hopes its “willingness to be transparent” gives the city and state reassurance “that short-term rentals can be effectively regulated without blunt prohibitions.”
“Now more than ever, regular New Yorkers should have the ability to occasionally share their home,” he added, noting that the activity “should not be confused with illegal hotels.”
New York City is, to date, the platform’s largest market here in the U.S. It also happens to be riddled with homeowners flouting NYC’s laws banning entire apartments from being rented out for short-term stays in the absence of a tenant. City officials have estimated that up to 35,000 listings on the Airbnb site to date — from a slew of different hosts across the five boroughs — break that particular rule.
The heat between Airbnb and New York heated up roughly two years ago, when officials passed another local law forcing home-rental companies like Airbnb to disclose data about their hosts on a regular basis, which would shine a spotlight on any that were, say, caught renting out more space than they legally out to. In return, Airbnb and Homeaway, another short-stay platform, fired back with a lawsuit of their own, which gleaned the favour of local judges last summer.
According to Bloomberg, the battle has since simmered down in the form of a private settlement between the two companies and the city of New York. Both agreed to share information on as quarterly basis, rather than the month-by-month arrangements first pushed by the regulators in question. Information shared includes the host’s full name and address, along with their contact information and income generated on either platform — not to mention information about every listing they’re putting up at any given time.
The good news is that Airbnb, Homeaway, and others in the space will only be required to cough up these details on hosts that “rent out their entire homes for five or more nights a quarter,” according to the Bloomberg report — which means that, by and large, hosts citywide aren’t having their details shared. And maybe, now that the dust has finally settled on the home-sharing giant, it can finally think about going public.