State Attorney General to Investigate Airbnb Users

Airbnb Inc., the short-term home rental service for travelers, was recently asked to provide information to New York's attorney general about its hosts who rent and sublet apartments. Airbnb allows people to rent dwellings on a short-term basis as an alternative to hotels. A 2010 New York law bars renters from subletting apartments for fewer than 30 days with some exceptions.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office issued a subpoena for information about whether people who put units on the Airbnb Web site are complying with state rental laws. Mr. Schneiderman's office is looking at whether property managers or brokers are skirting the law by renting out large numbers of units, or whether some individuals are using apartments for transient guests for large portions of the year.

In a recent company blog post, Airbnb's head of global policy, David Hantman, said the company wants "to work with governments to make the Airbnb community stronger." The demand from the attorney general's office, seeking data on 15,000 New York Airbnb hosts, is "unreasonably broad and we will fight it with everything we've got," he wrote.

The company plans to continue conversations with Mr. Schneiderman's office and try to remove "bad actors" from service while protecting hosts' information, Mr. Hantman said. Airbnb is working with policy makers to try to clarify the rental laws and to find ways of ensuring that users pay applicable lodging taxes, he said.