New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has requested apartment-sharing site Airbnb hand over user data on an estimated 15,000 New York City hosts by the end of the day today.
The Attorney General's office says it wants to crack down on people operating illegal hotels, disturbing residential neighborhoods with large volumes of rowdy guests, and even evicting tenants from rent-regulated apartments to rent them out for more money to tourists.
In a blog post, Airbnb's director of public policy says it shares these goals: "Bad actors like illegal hotel operators and slumlords aren’t part of our vision and have no place on Airbnb and we hope we can work with State leaders to weed out these individuals." Airbnb has offered to tack on hotel taxes to Airbnb rentals, but is resisting the demands to hand over user data, citing privacy concerns.
The Attorney General's crackdown comes on the heels of a legal victory for Airbnb in NYC. In that case, an Airbnb host was found to be operating within the law that allows short-term rentals as long as the host remains in residence. But a large chunk of rentals on Airbnb consist of entire empty homes, which don't fall within that loophole.
Airbnb's public policy and legal woes are intensifying, from neighborhood opposition in Los Angeles to court battles in New York. The company's future stability depends on what kind of deal it is able to cut with local authorities in the 34,000 cities where it operates.
[Image: Flickr user stev.ie]