Skip to main content

Airbnb reveals that half of its hosts in New York City are breaking the law

empire state building new york
Mihai Simonia/Shutterstock
Airbnb wasn’t kidding when it said it planned to be more transparent in the future. In an internal report published earlier this week, the lodging firm revealed that 55 percent of New York City hosts are breaking the law.

How are they breaking the law? Well, in New York City, it is illegal to rent a whole apartment for under 30 days. Hosts caught doing that could be fined up to $50,000. NYC has hit a few hosts with fines in the past for failing to adhere to the city’s laws.

That doesn’t mean 55 percent of hosts will be fined, but considering the Attorney General’s 2014 report showed 37 percent of revenue came from hosts with three or more listings, some landlords are clearly abusing Airbnb by knocking up rent and reaping the rewards. That might force the Attorney General to push for more regulation against Airbnb.

The illegal hotels are tucked away behind all of Airbnb’s good reasons for using the service to arrange to stay in New York, like the fact that its hosts’ median earnings are only $5,110 per year, not enough to be considered a full-time job. The startup also claims that 95 percent of its hosts only share one listing, though it is quite easy to set up multiple accounts with alternative information.

84 percent of Airbnb’s hosts share listings for less than 120 days, and 78 percent are of low, moderate, or middle income, two more facts that make it sound like the majority are just average homeowners. That said, a minority of hosts are making over $100,000 per year from the service in New York City.

Some affordable housing advocates claim that Airbnb has skewered the information in its favor, instead of releasing an independent report. New York City council members Jumaane Williams and Helen Rosenthal have already called the disclosure “pointless,” saying that Airbnb refused to disclose any actionable data to the council members.

It is hard to judge what Airbnb’s presence in a city does, since the firm is so tight with host info. The growing regulatory pressure in San Francisco, New York, and a few other cities makes it seem like Airbnb is not as friendly as it appears, but regulators have not presented any alternative to the “shared economy” approach to renting apartments.

Editors' Recommendations

David Curry
Former Digital Trends Contributor
David has been writing about technology for several years, following the latest trends and covering the largest events. He is…
Electric Citi Bikes is returning to New York City with a price shake-up
citibike gets a makeover with new fleet of more comfortable better designed bicycles row

Citi Bike's pedal-assist electric bicycles are returning to the streets of New York City seven months after being pulled over safety concerns.

The shared two-wheelers were taken off the streets in April 2019 after some riders complained of harder-than-expected braking on the front wheel, an issue that reportedly sent a number of riders flying over the top of their bikes, causing injuries in the process.

Read more
Hail a cab in New York City soon and you might step into a Tesla
novitec announces suspension tweaks and body kit for tesla model 3 9

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has recently added the Tesla Model 3 to the list of twenty approved vehicles to be taxi cabs in the city and it is the only electric vehicle (EV) on the list. TLC executives did not indicate who requested adding the Tesla to the list for the certification and inspection that is required to gain approval.

To qualify, a Tesla will need that all too familiar Dupont M6284 yellow paint job, proper signage, interior security cameras, and a fare meter. Once outfitted, the vehicle can run for seven years under an unrestricted medallion issued by the TLC.  In a study of NYC taxi cabs, they were found to average 192 miles per day, which fits the 240-mile range that the Model 3 offers. New York City also has Tesla-friendly charging stations throughout the five boroughs.

Read more
Verizon is bringing its 5G service to parts of New York City
Qualcomm 5G at CES 2019

Verizon has slowly but surely been launching 5G service in smaller cities around the country, but its next city is set to be its biggest challenge yet. Verizon has announced that it will launch 5G in parts of New York City on September 26. According to the company, this include areas of uptown, midtown, downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens.

As you would expect from a newly launched service, actual 5G reception is likely to be spotty -- so don't expect to get a blanket of solid 5G service around the city. Instead, you'll likely connect to the service in certain areas on the street, and it you're lucky, that connection will last more than a few minutes.

Read more