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Airbnb agrees to hand over hosts’ data to settle its NYC lawsuit

It will share info about hosts who may be violating short-term rental laws.
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KATWIJK, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 20: In this photo illustration, a man looks at the website of Airbnb on April 20, 2020 in Katwijk, Netherlands.  (Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images)
Yuriko Nakao via Getty Images

For two years, Airbnb has been battling a New York City bill that would force short-term rental services to hand over data about hosts. Friday, Airbnb agreed to share that data. The two sides reached a settlement with compromises that Airbnb says provide more protections for hosts’ information than the original bill would have and build the trust that’s needed to legitimize short-term rentals.

As a result of the agreement, Airbnb and other short-term rental services will provide the City with information about listings if they are for an entire apartment for five or more nights a quarter. That information will include address, nights booked and the host’s name, address, phone number and email. Airbnb will only share this info if hosts consent, but if hosts don’t consent, they won’t be able to list properties for short-term rental.

The requirements won’t go into effect until approximately six months after an amended City ordinance is passed, and even then, the information sharing will only apply going forward. It will not be retroactive. Though, Airbnb previously agreed to hand over data for NYC listings rented between January 1st, 2018 and February 18th, 2019.

For NYC, this saga is about weeding out listings that violate short-term rental laws. Officials estimate as many as 35,000 current Airbnb listings break laws that prohibit entire apartments from being rented for fewer than 30 days without a tenant present, Bloomberg reports. While the settlement could mean Airbnb loses those listings, the company hopes that the agreement will lead to “sensible short-term rental laws.”

“We hope that our willingness to be transparent enables the State and the City to feel reassured that short-term rentals can be effectively regulated without blunt prohibitions. Now more than ever, regular New Yorkers should have the ability to occasionally share their home, activity that we believe should not be confused with illegal hotels. By sharing all relevant data, we hope to make this very clear to all those concerned,” Airbnb Co-Founder Nate Blecharczyk wrote in a letter to Airbnb hosts.

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