Monday, December 7, 2015

Airbnb Replies (with some data) to the Report of the NY State Attorney General

Here's a 2014 report by the NY State Attorney General's office, Airbnb in the city

Short-Term Rentals Experienced Explosive Growth. Private short-term bookings in New York City on Airbnb increased sharply during the Review Period, registering more than a tenfold increase. The associated revenue also spiked, nearly doubling each year. This year, revenue to Airbnb and its hosts from private short-term rentals in New York City is expected to exceed $282 million.

Most Short-Term Rentals Booked in New York Violated the Law. State and local laws in New York—including the Multiple Dwelling Law and the New York City Administrative Code— prohibit certain short-term rentals. During the Review Period, 72 percent of units used as private shortterm rentals on Airbnb appeared to violate these laws.

Commercial Users Accounted for a Disproportionate Share of Private ShortTerm Rentals by Volume and Revenue. Ninety-four percent of Airbnb hosts offered at most two unique units during the Review Period. But the remaining six percent of hosts dominated the platform during that period, offering up to hundreds of unique units, accepting 36 percent of private short-term bookings, and receiving $168 million, 37 percent of all host revenue. This report refers to these hosts as “Commercial Users.”

Top Commercial Users Employed Rental Platforms to Run Multimillion-Dollar Short-Term Rental Businesses. Well over 100 Commercial Users each controlled 10 or more unique Airbnb units during the Review Period. Together, these hosts accepted 47,103 private shortterm reservations and earned $59.4 million in revenue. The highest-earning operation administered 272 unique Airbnb listings, booked 3,024 reservations, and received $6.8 million in revenue during the Review Period. Each of the top 12 New York City operations on Airbnb during that period earned revenue exceeding $1 million.

Private Short-Term Rentals Displaced Long-Term Housing in Thousands of Apartments. In 2013, more than 4,600 units were booked as short-term rentals through Airbnb for three months of the year or more. Of these, nearly 2,000 units were booked as short-term rentals for a cumulative total of half the year or more—rendering them largely unavailable for use by long-term residents. Notably, the share of revenue to Airbnb and its hosts from units booked as private shortterm rentals for more than half the year increased steadily, accounting for 38 percent of each figure by 2013.

Numerous Short-Term Rental Units Appeared to Serve as Illegal Hostels. New York law does not permit commercial enterprises to operate hostels, where multiple, unrelated guests share tight quarters. In 2013, approximately 200 units in New York City were booked as private shortterm rentals for more than 365 nights during the year. This indicates that multiple transients shared the same listing on the same night, as they would in an illegal hostel. The 10 most-rented units for private short-term rentals were each booked for an average of about 1,900 nights in 2013, with the top listing accepting 13 reservations on an average night.

Gentrified or Rapidly Gentrifying Neighborhoods Primarily in Manhattan Accounted for the Vast Majority of Revenue from Private Short-Term Rentals in New York City. Bookings in just three Community Districts in Manhattan—the Lower East Side/Chinatown, Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen, and Greenwich Village/SoHo—accounted for approximately $187 million in revenue to hosts, or more than 40 percent of private stay revenue to hosts during the Review Period. By contrast, all the reservations in three boroughs (Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx) brought hosts revenue of $12 million—less than three percent of the New York City total

Here's a recent NY Times story on the data Airbnb has recently made available:
Airbnb Says Data Dump Shows Misuse of Service Is Rare

"With its release of a trove of data this week, the short-term rental company Airbnb sought to underscore how the majority of its hosts in New York City are playing by the rules. The point is a critical one for the company, valued by investors at about $24 billion, as it tries to pacify skeptical lawmakers and regulators.
Of particular concern to officials are the Airbnb hosts who lease multiple apartments, renting them out year-round and distorting their market value in a climate of scarce affordable housing.
The anonymized information released by Airbnb on rentals between November 2014 and November 2015 showed that 55 hosts in Manhattan, the borough with the most listings, have five or more full units listed on the platform, a tiny fraction of the more than 18,700 units listed in the borough.
Airbnb said it removed more than 2,000 listings last year after an affidavit was filed by the New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, saying that two-thirds of the apartments listed in the city were illegal sublets.
A spokesman for Mr. Schneiderman’s office said that after a review of anonymized data Airbnb provided in 2014, it sought the identities of 124 hosts, all of whom had a minimum of 10 listings on the site and were earning an average of $500,000 a year. In June, the attorney general’s office referred the cases, including about two dozen hosts who had indicated a willingness to settle, to four city agencies with enforcement powers.
Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said that after receiving the attorney general’s referral, “city agencies began assembling cases to hold violators accountable.”
“We expect to announce those results soon,” he said.

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