Airbnb Releases Data On NYC Rentals To Combat Idea Of Greedy Landlords, Hoteliers Dominating The Platform

Image courtesy of Jeremy Schultz

In an effort to dispel the idea that Airbnb listings in New York City are filled with greedy landlords and homeowners who are basically hoteliers, the company has released new anonymized data that it says shows most listings are by hosts that only own one unit, and those that have multiple properties aren’t hogging an unfair share of the revenue generated using the platform.

In November, Airbnb promised to start releasing anonymized data about how its hosts use the platform in different cities. NYC is the first city to have its data released to the public.

According to the data published by Airbnb, of the 35,966 active listings on the platform, 19,742 are entire home units — which means you can rent the apartment without having to worry that you’ll run into the host on his way to the bathroom at 3 a.m.

Airbnb said at first that 95% of those entire-home hosts only have one listing on the platform in NYC, while another 4% of entire home listings are from hosts with two properties. That would leave just 1% for hosts that own more than three properties. However after first touting that figure, Airbnb admitted it made a mistake, reported the New York Daily News, saying that figure for hosts with one listing was more like 75%, leaving about 21% open for hosts with more than three properties.

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This isn’t far from what the N.Y. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office found in a report in November 2014. In that report, the state claimed that though the so-called “commercial” landlords — with at least three listings or more — made up only 6% of listings, they accounted for a disproportionate share of rental revenue, bringing in 37% of all revenue ($168.3 million).

Airbnb’s data in this new report shows those numbers shrinking a bit, with total of 24% of revenue coming in from the roughly 2% of hosts with listings of three properties or more. While the company didn’t disclose in this report how much revenue was brought in, it’s a disproportionate amount when compared to the revenue brought in by non-commercial hosts.

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The number of hosts with six listings or more will shrink in the coming year, representing an even smaller slice of the revenue pie in NYC, Airbnb predicts, to 2% of overall hosting revenue compared to 7% now.

Despite the data dump, NYC officials still aren’t impressed, as the data didn’t reveal the identity of the users who were likely illegal hotel operators and didn’t specify how many listings were violating the state ban on short-term rentals.

It would also appear that many hosts are violating NYC law, which prohibits renting out apartments for less than 30 days. As Airbnb itself notes: “the overwhelming majority of Airbnb hosts are sharing the home in which they live on an occasional basis, such as when they leave town for work or vacation.”

“It really got us nowhere,” City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal told the NYDN. She’s sponsoring a bill to increase fines on the company.

Schneiderman’s office told Consumerist it had no comment on the data dump.