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Airbnb Says It Scrapped 1,500 NYC Listings Before Releasing Data

Airbnb'S Value Estimated At $10 Billion After New Round Of InvestmentsAirbnb'S Value Estimated At $10 Billion After New Round Of Investments
The Airbnb app displayed on a smartphone.Photograph by Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Airbnb, the juggernaut home rental startup, says the company removed 1,500 properties from the platform before releasing data on its New York City listings last November.

The company released a letter to New York state legislators on Wednesday saying the listings were from “commercial operators.” The reveal comes just two weeks after independent researchers suggested Airbnb had manipulated the data on its New York City listings to downplay the number of hosts who rent more than one place. Using computer programs, the researchers found big drop-offs in listings of entire homes around the time the data went public.

In the letter released to lawmakers on Wednesday, Josh Meltzer, Airbnb’s New York head of public policy, wrote “when it comes to home sharing our platform is one of permanent homes only in New York City.”

The company has come under fire from regulators for becoming a platform for illegal rentals. The New York attorney general released a report last year that found almost three-quarters of Airbnb listings in New York City violated local hotel laws.

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“In cities where there is a shortage of long-term housing, we are committed to working with our community to prevent short-term rentals from impacting the availability of long term housing by ensuring hosts agree to a policy of listing only permanent homes on a short-term basis,” Meltzer wrote.

Airbnb now says 94% of its hosts in New York list only one place. But those Airbnb hosts renting more than one home still make up a sizeable chunk of cash: 38% of New York City Airbnb revenue comes from people listing two or more homes, Bloomberg reports.

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Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky was on The Daily Show on Wednesday evening just after the letter went public. When host Trevor Noah asked where Chesky was staying in New York, he said he was staying at an airbnb rental in the SoHo neighborhood.

Noah asked, “Is that for real?”

To which Chesky replied, “I actually like staying in homes when I travel.”