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New York Attorney General Issues New Subpoena to Airbnb

@jasonclampet

Skift Take

With requests narrowed down to satisfy the judge, Airbnb will need to make new arguments to battle the subpoena.

— Jason Clampet

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued a new, more narrow subpoena requesting user information from short-term rental site Airbnb.

“Since the judge rejected all of Airbnb’s arguments except for a narrow technical matter, our office has served the company with a new subpoena that addresses that issue,” said Matt Mittenthal, Press Secretary for the Attorney General. “The judge specifically found evidence that a ‘substantial’ number of Airbnb hosts may be violating the tax laws and the law that prohibits illegal hotels. The time has come for Airbnb to stop shielding hosts who may be violating a law that provides vital protections for building residents and tourists.”

The new subpoena strips out the broad request for user data across New York and focuses on hosts in New York City who rent their entire apartment for less than 30 days.

Airbnb issued a statement in response. “The Airbnb community wants to pay New York more than $20 million in additional taxes this year, bring more travelers to the state, and support more jobs. And when we discovered that some people were abusing our platform, we removed them from our site altogether.”

In January of 2013, Skift discussed potentially illegal listings with David Hantman, Airbnb’s Global Head of Public Policy. At that time Hantman told Skift, “We can’t possibly keep up with the law in all the cities.”

We want to avoid becoming legal advisors who are required to know the law in every market we operate,” Hantman added.

In February of this year Skift revealed that nearly two thirds of Airbnb’s listings in New York were likely in violation of the state’s short-term rental laws. The service took no action on the listings until late April, one day prior to its hearing over the motion to quash the subpoena.

“It is certainly disappointing that the Attorney General’s office continues to demand private information about thousands of Airbnb hosts,” Airbnb’s statement continues. “So many of whom struggle every day just to make ends meet. We are reviewing this new demand, but remain eager to work with the Attorney General and we will continue to advocate for New Yorkers who simply want to share their homes.”

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