Airbnb Releases Trove of New York City Home-Sharing Data


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“Our hope is that people will understand 99 percent of people on Airbnb in New York Ccity are using it as an economic lifeline,” said Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy and public affairs.

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Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Airbnb has had a rough history with regulators in New York City. Now the company is playing nice.

On Tuesday, the short-term home-rental company began sharing data on the ways that people open their homes to guests in the five boroughs. The data, an anonymized compendium of the thousands of hosts in New York, includes statistics like host earnings, the types of listings and how often people rent out their homes.

The effort is the first time Airbnb has voluntarily shared city data on a wide scale on how its hosts use the online platform. The move follows a public pledge that the company made last month, in which the San Francisco-based start-up said it wished to build an “open and transparent” community.

“Our hope is that people will understand 99 percent of people on Airbnb in New York City are using it as an economic lifeline,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy and public affairs, said in an interview.

The action is part of the company’s broad effort to convince local and national regulators that Airbnb is not a platform for so-called illegal hotel operators, who use the site to skirt local housing laws and hotel restrictions to regularly rent properties to travelers.

That issue has been particularly contentious in New York, where authorities have cited the rise of Airbnb as a significant reason for an increase in overall rent prices and a lack of affordable housing.

In a report last year based on Airbnb data, the New York State attorney general’s office said nearly three quarters of Airbnb rentals in the city were illegal. By New York State law, a short-term entire-home rental is considered illegal if it is rented out for less than 30 days. It is unclear what percentage of entire-home Airbnb listings in New York are rented for less than 30 days.

The back-and-forth landed Airbnb in court. Last May, after a protracted legal battle, Airbnb agreed to hand over anonymized data on the company’s hosts in the city to Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general.

The new data set released on Tuesday, which is made available only by making an appointment to visit Airbnb’s New York City office, shows the majority of New York City hosts do not have large numbers of properties to rent out. Some 93 percent of revenue earned by active hosts in New York City who share their entire home comes from people who have only one or two rental listings on the platform. The typical annual host income is roughly $5,110, according to the data.

“The vast majority of the community is doing this in the right way,” Mr. Lehane said.

Mr. Schneiderman was not immediately available for comment.

Airbnb, founded in 2008, has more than 2 million listings in 34,000 cities across 190 countries. The company is valued at roughly $24 billion, and recently closed another $100 million in venture financing, according to two people familiar with the matter. Airbnb declined to comment on fund-raising matters.

As the company has grown, it has pushed back against regulators and fought alliances in the hotel industry, from which the start-up is increasingly taking a large share of customers.

Airbnb said it will expand its data-sharing efforts beyond New York City. By sharing anonymized data with other towns, the company said it hopes regulators will work to draft more comprehensive, up-to-date legislation that deals with the short-term-rental phenomenon.

“Today is really the first example of us walking the walk,” Mr. Lehane said. “It’s important for us now, especially in New York, to start having this conversation.”



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