Airbnb allegedly manipulated numbers to hide illegal hosts in NYC

Airbnb hosting illegal rentals in NYC and hiding the numbers

Airbnb was reportedly hiding certain rental numbers in New York City to conceal the fact that “illegal hosts” were using the platform to reap huge financial benefits.

The report by Inside Airbnb alleges that the sharing-economy poster child purged problematic listings ahead of its public release of New York City listing data on November 17 of last year.

The company allegedly removed more than 1,000 listings from its report ahead of a public data disclosure.

Airbnb Public Data disclosure

Co-authors Murray Cox and Tom Slee wrote that before November 1, property hosts with multiple listings made up about 19% of the market, but that number fell to 10% in the few weeks immediately before Airbnb publicized its data.

The company allegedly removed 9% of those listings to refute claims by the hospitality industry that Airbnb is essentially running a non-licensed hotel business in New York City.

“The purge was limited to the exact data set that Airbnb presented to the public,” the report said.

The report from Inside Airbnb follows a Penn State School of Hospitality study that also alleged that Airbnb has a large number of professional landlords who operate multiple and full-time listings on the site.

“The vast majority of our hosts are everyday people who have just one listing and share their space a few nights a month,” Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said in an emailed statement.

“We routinely review our listings to ensure guests are having the quality, local experience they expect and deserve,” he added.

Airbnb claims that 95% of its 17,000 New York City hosts had only a single listing at the time of its report.