Economic Data Used to Bolster Both Sides of Short-Term Rentals Debate

In the ongoing battle between New York State short-term rental laws and popular short-term rental Web site Airbnb, the latest defensive strategy by the company appears to be an information campaign using economic data.

According to Airbnb, by lowering the price point for accommodations and allowing more tourists to visit New York City, it hosted 416,000 visitors to the city between August 2012 and July 2013, boosting the economy by $632 million. However, according to the state’s attorney general’s office, which recently subpoenaed the short-term rental site's New York user data, based on information given to it by Airbnb, the top 40 Airbnb hosts in New York have each grossed at least $400,000 over the past three years, a collective total of over $35 million. The top 100 hosts in that time period have grossed $54 million.


The attorney general’s office has stated that it hopes to recover millions of dollars in unpaid taxes and to stop the abuse of Airbnb’s site by operators of illegal hotels.