Expect Airbnb to fight: The information about how its most popular hosts use the service and whether this is consistent with the story Airbnb likes to tell about itself will have a large impact on the site's growth and potential IPO.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed user records from Airbnb this weekend as part of an investigation into hosts that violate the state’s short-term rental laws, reported the New York Daily News.
Airbnb has said they will not cooperate with the subpoena. David Hantman, Airbnb’s head of public policy wrote on a company blog, “We always want to work with governments to make the Airbnb community stronger, but at this point, this demand is unreasonably broad and we will fight it with everything we’ve got.”
The debate centers on what exactly Airbnb’s users look like. Hantman wrote today that “the vast majority of these hosts are everyday New Yorkers who occasionally share the home in which they live.” Critics of the service have argued that the majority of the rentals happening on Airbnb are not with these hosts but with those that manage multiple properties for others or from landlords that have illegally taken their units off the market.
Read more about what collaborative consumption and the sharing economy mean to the future of travel.
The Attorney General’s subpoena is designed to discover which of these two characterizations is closest to the truth.
State Senator Liz Krueger, who co-sponsored the law that many Airbnb hosts are violating, issued a statement today that read, “We have full confidence the Attorney General knows the law and is doing his job: Exploring avenues to protect both the everyday New Yorkers and the visitors to New York that our law is designed to protect.”
More on Airbnb’s Challenges
- Airbnb CEO Gives New York His Three-Step Plan For Going Legit
- Airbnb Is Not off the Hook in New York City, Says Chief Legislative Critic
- NYC Rules Airbnb Rentals Legal if at Least One Tenant Present
- Airbnb Hires a Hospitality Pro to Improve the Service’s Standards
- Airbnb’s growing pains mirrored in New York City, where half its listings are illegal rentals