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Airbnb Says Data Show NYC Rentals Used Legitimately

The data are in, and Airbnb says the results show that in New York City, hosts are on the up and up.

As The New York Times reported on Thursday, the short-term rental company released “a trove” of stats in an effort to show that hosts who rent multiple apartments and also derive extra income from those properties, are not in fact skewing rental rates, and by extension, property values, higher in the city.

In fact, according to Airbnb, the information that spans anonymous Airbnb hosts between November of 2014 and 2015 show that of the 18,700 units that are listed on the isle, only about 55 hosts have five or more units listed through the site and rent them all through the year.

As such, it is unlikely that the rental market is indeed being swayed by people who are bringing in extra income, to the detriment of city residents who are seeking, and being increasingly priced out of, affordable housing.

That data is critical to a company, said The Times, that has been valued at as much as $24 billion, but has faced criticism from local and state lawmakers.

Separately, in an interview with The Times, Chris Lehane, who is the head of the company’s global policy and public affairs unit, said that “99 percent of the people on the platform are doing it through their primary home, or at most with two listings,” adding that “even within that 94 percent or 95 percent are doing it in their private homes.” Those parties with the aforementioned five (or more) listings are in fact “extremes,” the executive said, and are shrinking in relative terms to the whole platform itself.

And yet, the business of mass rentals can be an enriching one. One such Airbnb entrepreneur, who wished to remain known only as “Josh,” told The Times that he rents out five apartments in the borough, with a total income from the portfolio of $500,000 annually, and that is of course before fees are paid. His scheme works thusly: one of the five apartments is in his name; the others are owned by people who sign leases but get a slice of the rent that is incurred through the year. That’s an illegal practice under New York state law, which states that renting properties for less than 30 days is anathema unless there is at least one occupant at the site.

Airbnb, for its part, took down roughly 2,000 listings last year after the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman said that two-thirds of the apartments listed in the city were in fact illegal sublets. And, spurred by data provided last year, the AG’s office asked for identities of 124 hosts who each had listings of at least 10 properties across Airbnb and had been generating an average of an extra $500,000 in annual income. The cases had then been referred to city agencies, said The Times – and results of those investigations are likely to be announced “soon,” according to an agency spokesman.

 

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