New York attorney general issues new subpoena in Airbnb case
FORTUNE — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is trying yet again to get personal information about New Yorkers who rent apartments on Airbnb, the online room rental service. A day after a judge rejected his subpoena for the records, Schneiderman has filed a new demand that he hopes will pass legal muster.
Schneiderman is investigating the illegal short-term apartment rentals in New York through sites like Airbnb. State law prohibits the rentals of less than 30 days if the owner or permanent resident is away. Landlords are also supposed to pay a 15% hotel occupancy tax. But many Airbnb hosts fail to do so.
The revised subpoena is just the latest in the long-running legal battle between the attorney general and Airbnb. The fight started last year and has been punctuated by frequent verbal barbs and court filings.
Yesterday, a judge rejected the attorney general’s original subpoena by calling it overly broad. The decision marked a small setback for the investigation. But the attorney has quickly come back with a revised demand for personal information about Airbnb users that he hopes will withstand any legal challenge.
“The time has come for Airbnb to stop shielding hosts who may be violating a law that provides vital protections for building residents and tourists,” said Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for the attorney general.
In a statement, Airbnb said “it is certainly disappointing that the attorney general’s office continues to demand private information about thousands of Airbnb hosts, so many of whom struggle every day just to make ends meet.” It continued, “We are reviewing this new demand, but remain eager to work with the Attorney General and we will continue to advocate for New Yorkers who simply want to share their homes.”
Airbnb also pointed to the fact that New York’s community of hosts “want to pay more than $20 million in additional taxes bring more travelers to the state, and support more jobs.” Users who were “abusing” the platform were “removed from [the] site altogether,” the statement continued.