A coalition of New York politicians, housing advocates, labor groups and hotel owners on Friday launched a $3 million campaign against Airbnb and other websites that facilitate "illegal hotels," a spokesman for the organization said.
The group, called Share Better, aims to counter the Airbnb media campaign that features upbeat stories of regular people renting out their homes and sharing meals or other experiences with their guests.
"We cannot sit by while illegal hotel operators and unscrupulous landlords further exacerbate New York City's housing crisis by taking units off the market to rent to travelers, while NYC residents are priced out of the neighborhoods they call home. Illegal hotels place residents and visitors at risk and must be stopped," state Sen. Brad Hoylman said in a statement that also featured remarks from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, state Sen. Liz Krueger, seven other City Council members and several housing officials.
Airbnb on its public policy blog posted a response, stating there are "3 million households in New York City and approximately 25,000 Airbnb listings, far too few to have an effect on housing prices."
"We strongly oppose illegal hotels, and we are a company founded on the belief that housing should be more accessible, more affordable and more available. We have worked to remove people from Airbnb that were having an adverse effect on travelers and the New York community," Airbnb states in its response.
"Earlier this year, we examined our community in New York and found that some property managers were abusing our site with multiple listings and weren't providing a quality, local experience to guests. These hosts weren't making their neighborhood stronger and they weren't delivering the kind of hospitality our guests expect and deserve. We took action and removed these hosts and their more than 2,000 listings from the Airbnb community."
Earlier this month, Airbnb was sued by a group of its users who hope to prevent the site from turning over their personal information in compliance with a court order related to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's probe of illegal hotel operations in New York City. That case focuses on a city law that prohibits residents of multiple-dwelling buildings from renting out their apartments for any period of time less than 30 days unless they are also present in the apartment.