February 10, 2016
Airbnb did some serious housekeeping before opening its books to the public and lawmakers, according to a new report from a pair of long-time company watchdogs.
The apartment-sharing website had a sudden drop of roughly 1,000 listings that looked like illegal hotel rooms around the same time it made its data available in early December, the report co-authored by the founder of the watchdog website Inside Airbnb found.
Those deleted listings, the report found, were for entire homes and were being offered by Airbnb users who had at least two sites available — both of which regulators view as red flags.
Entire apartment listings typically are illegal under New York’s strict multiple dwelling law, the only exceptions being for single- and two-family homes.
In addition, site users who advertise more than one listing are considered suspicious since most people have only one home in New York City, and could be an indicator of a landlord illegally renting out their apartments to make extra cash.
But Airbnb dismissed the findings, saying through a spokesman that “listings come on and go off throughout the year.”
“We routinely review our listings to ensure guests are having the quality, local experience they expect and deserve,” the spokesman said.
The report also focuses on the busy marathon and Halloween weekend, when listings spiked, said the spokesman.
The report found that on Nov. 1 the company had 3,331 entire apartment listings from hosts who had at least two places for rent on the site.
On Nov. 20, there were 1,893 entire apartment listings from hosts with at least two places on the site, according to the report — a 40% drop in that category.
Airbnb released no comparable raw numbers, but claimed — based on a snapshot of listings on Nov. 17 — that 95% of its entire home hosts only had one listing.
That cherry-picked figure ignores the 1,000 listings that were dropped, which would likely bring it up even higher, according to the report.