Users of Airbnb in New York who tried to scam the system are now being investigated by the state attorney general. The site that connects people with apartments they aren’t using to travelers who can’t afford hotels handed over data on 124 past and present hosts last week, according to TIME.
Airbnb defended its popular platform by saying that the vast majority of hosts registered on their site are following the rules, and the abusers represent “far less than 1%” of its hosting community in New York City.
“Nothing about these hosting profiles suggests [the attorney general] is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform,” said David Hantman, head of global policy for Airbnb, in a blog post on Friday.
It’s not the first time that Airbnb has faced problems in New York. Last year, the state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a subpoena for hosts in the past three years. The company eliminated a couple thousand users after the scrutiny.
New York City’s public advocate, Letitia James, has also slammed Airbnb for contributing to driving up rental prices and home prices in the already overpriced city.
In May, Public Advocate James sent a scathing, two-page letter to New York’s transit authority chair questioning Airbnb ads on buses and in subways. Many subway trains in the city have been plastered with Airbnb ads ever since the company started to face criticism and legal trouble in New York.
James said in her letter that a series of ads in NYC’s massive transit hub Penn Station “seriously calls into question whether this firm is facilitating or encouraging illegal behavior, including violating New York State law which prohibits New Yorkers from renting out entire apartments for less than 30 consecutive days,” according to the Daily News.
Overseas, Airbnb has come under scrutiny for a bizarre ad run by its Australian branch.
For one night only, on Saturday, August 31, Airbnb users can have a one-night stay at Ikea in Sydney. Three rooms were advertised on Airbnb, according to Yahoo! Travel. The ad describes a stay in room with “rustic charm” that is “reminiscent of a Swedish summer cottage.” There’s no word yet of the Sydney government characterizing the ad as illegal.
Back in May, Airbnb spent six months working out an agreement with New York’s attorney general. New York City’s leaders said they wanted to protect residents and tourists from illegal hotels, and Airbnb wanted to protect the privacy of its hosts.