Peer-to-peer home rental site Airbnb had its day in court Tuesday but will have to wait to find out if a New York judge will order it to turn over user data to the attorney general, who asserts many of the 15,000 users in New York City are operating illegally.
"Today, the Attorney General again made it clear that he remains determined to comb through the personal information of thousands of regular New Yorkers just trying to make ends meet," Airbnb posted on its website late Tuesday afternoon. "We were proud to stand up for our hosts who share their homes and against this over-broad, government-sponsored fishing expedition. Cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Hamburg are embracing the sharing economy and New York shouldn't be stuck playing catch-up."
Since October, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been seeking to enforce a subpoena to gain access of the user data on the 15,000 or so hosts who offer rooms in New York City through Airbnb. After several postponements, Judge Gerald W.Connolly in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Albany, on Tuesday heard arguments from both sides.
The judge reserved his decision and will issue his ruling sometime in the future, according to the court clerk's office.
"Despite all of AirBnb's rhetoric, the company has never denied that substantial illegal activity is taking place on its site," said Matt Mittenthal, spokesman for Attorney General Schneiderman. "To the contrary, AirBnb decided before our hearing to remove 2,000 listings posted by "bad actors"– hardly isolated cases. The Attorney General will continue to stand up for the law that protects building residents and tourists alike, and we await the judge's decision."
The Schneiderman filing seeks the data to enforce the New York City law pertaining to short-term rentals.
"It is illegal for residents of Class A [multiple dwelling] buildings to rent out their apartments for any period of time less than 30 days unless they are also present in the apartment," the AG's office stated in its November rebuttal to Airbnb's attempt to quash the subpoena.
As of Jan. 31 this year, there were 19,522 NYC listings on Airbnb with 15,677 unique hosts, according to a follow-up affidavit filed by the AG's office Monday. Of those, 1,849 hosts had multiple listings, and that 12 percent accounted for 30 percent of all the NYC listings on the site. Only one of the 15,677 required a stay of longer than 30 days.