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Half of Airbnb's New York City hosts are breaking the law

You're not supposed to rent your whole apartment in New York, but many Airbnb renters do it anyway.

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New York's Attorney General already suspects that most Airbnb rentals in New York City are dodgy, and he now has some extra evidence to back up that claim... from Airbnb itself. The room sharing service has published data which, when given a close inspection, reveals that 55 percent of NYC hosts are (typically) violating the law by renting out whole apartments while they're gone. They're not necessarily setting up illegal hotels, but the Attorney General's 2014 report revealed that 37 percent of revenue came from hosts with three or more listings. Unless there's been a change in the past year, the odds are high that some of those recent hosts are abusing Airbnb to make a tidy profit.

Airbnb doesn't mention this in its blog post on the subject, and cites the data as proof that New Yorkers primarily use its service to "pay the bills and stay in their homes." In some ways, it's right. An Airbnb host in the city earns a median of $5,110 per year from their guests -- that's enough to help cover the rent, but not enough for a full business. However, affordable housing advocacy groups are already calling Airbnb's take a "whitewash" that masks the real problems with these rentals, which may be contributing to rent hikes. The most useful data still isn't available, the groups add. Whatever the truth, it's clear that Airbnb has a ways to go before it fulfills its promise of cooperating with cities.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews]

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