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Airbnb Settles With New York City, Agrees To Hand Over Listing Data

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky discusses Airbnb's new offerings during an event on Feb. 22, 2018.

The legal war between New York City and Airbnb has finally reached a truce, with the short-term rental site agreeing to hand over information on some of its hosts to the city.

Under the settlement, announced in a joint statement from the city and Airbnb Friday, the company will hand over the data each quarter and agree to drop its federal lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. The city council will introduce an updated local law to enforce the data sharing.

Data on hosts who list private or shared rooms with two or fewer guests will not be shared, nor will listings rented for fewer than five nights each quarter. Listings in places that are deemed “traditional hospitality locations” by the city will also not be shared.

Airbnb will share the data for hosts with listings that generate five or more nights of bookings per quarter if it is offering an entire home or has three or more guests allowed to stay there at once. Airbnb has agreed to hand over addresses, hosts’ names, how much they received from the booking and the number of nights booked.

“Illegal hotel operators who flout the law at the expense of working New Yorkers have no place in our neighborhoods,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Finally, we’ll have the critical information we need to preserve affordable housing and keep our communities protected.”

Christopher Lehane, Airbnb's senior vice president for Global Public Policy and Communications, said the company had “long wanted to work with New York City on an effective regulatory framework, including information sharing,” and the new agreement reaches that goal.

“As we look toward the recovery of New York’s tourism economy, we hope this settlement will represent a continuing relationship and the first step on a path forward for our community citywide,” he said.

A state law passed in 2016 prevents homes being rented out for fewer than 30 days. In 2018, the city council passed a bill that would force short-term operators to hand over host listing data to authorities. But by early 2019, the law was stopped by an injunction from the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on the grounds it could violate the Fourth Amendment.

Airbnb did provide data for some 17,500 listings following a subpoena from the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement in May of last year.

For the past few years, shadow inventory from short-term rental platforms like Airbnb has been a major problem for the city’s already oversupplied hotel market. With the coronavirus pandemic closing the city for three months now, the hotel market has been hard hit, and some predict many hotels that have closed their doors will never reopen.