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New York Subpoenaed AirBnb For All NYC User Data

Unknown Lamer posted about 6 months ago | from the have-some-bedbugs dept.

Privacy 181

Daniel_Stuckey writes "The war between New York City and Airbnb is raging on, and the future of the hospitality business hangs in the balance. The city is fighting the startup for breaking local laws against operating an illegal hotel out of your home, worried that hustlers are abusing the online service to turn a profit. To that end, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman just slapped the company with a subpoena to hand over the user data of all New Yorkers who've listed their apartment on the site, the New York Daily News reported today. That's about 225,000 users."

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181 comments

Look past the article's version of the cast ... (5, Insightful)

timothy (36799) | about 6 months ago | (#45068523)

Don'tcha love it that "turning a profit" is here characterized as "abuse"? And to be clear, it's not "the city" in the abstract that has anything against things like AirBnB -- nor is it guests. It's established hotel businesses, which would prefer the current low supply of rooms and the current scheme of regulation which lets *them* profit from the current configuration.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (4, Insightful)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 6 months ago | (#45068623)

Agreed. NYC has become such an insane town, government-wise, I shudder to think about ever going back. I mean, between soda bans, elevator bans, and their constant harassment over any business that innovates and turns a profit, like Airbnb or Uber, it just feels like Bloomberg and the rest of the town council, have done nothing but create a hostile environment for everyone. I love NYC, I really do. There's nothing better than walking through NYC on a cold winter's morning, eating a potato knish, but damn, it's gotten insane up there.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 6 months ago | (#45068719)

Must of rained on the weekend of their lawyer, Mr Schneiers, fishing trip. Considering that he's gone off on one to see whether hustlers are abusing their privileges. He should be slapped down for that move.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069681)

Must of

Must have.

Your school teachers must all be very proud.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (5, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about 6 months ago | (#45068965)

Right. The "problem" in NYC is "the government". No. Seriously. You are quite correct, as in "The government has become the willing lackey for doing the bidding of the monied interests who pay to have 'their' candidates elected." The blame for this lies with elections laws that allow such influence peddling and with an electorate that has failed almost completely to keep itself informed about the issues affecting it and policies of those they elect.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 6 months ago | (#45069411)

You do realize that Mayor Bloomberg is worth $31B. That's not thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions. That's billions. Thirty-one billion dollars.

I fail to see how any organization is going to influence Bloomberg.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 6 months ago | (#45069649)

I fail to see how any organization is going to influence Bloomberg.

That includes organizations which serve to protect the public as well. And the idea that a rich person can't be bought or influenced is nonsense. How do you think they got rich in the first place?

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069731)

Soap box, ballot box, jury box, ammo box. Or, to quote JFK, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#45069941)

At this point, I'm pretty sure that Bloomberg is just playing SimCity: Because I Fucking Can, That's Why, Edition, rather than actively pandering to anybody in particular

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45070467)

A bullet in his head would influence him. Kill all authoritarians.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (3, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | about 6 months ago | (#45069019)

There's nothing better than walking through NYC on a cold winter's morning, eating a potato knish

Then you haven't lived.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069469)

"I Hate NY"

I'm going to go to new york and start my own company making T-shirts saying "I Hate NW". I encourage everybody else to do the same, and make sure you list the reasons why.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45070265)

Then you'd need to explain why you wrote NW and not NY.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 6 months ago | (#45069619)

, it just feels like Bloomberg and the rest of the town council, have done nothing but create a hostile environment for everyone.

For everyone that isn't already established or has the $$$ to pay so they can play.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069865)

Not to mention the unconstitutional stop and frisk tactics by the police...

NYC is nice if you're a billionaire and don't have to run a business or go to work in the morning but for everybody else the place is ass.

And to think Bloomberg wants NYC to replace Silicon Valley as a center for innovation, what a joke.

It's a city for old money bankers and real estate moguls not innovation.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068647)

Government is a protection racket. You get what you pay for.

The trouble with justice is the scales tend to lean to the side with the most gold piled on.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (3, Insightful)

gutnor (872759) | about 6 months ago | (#45068709)

the current scheme of regulation which lets *them* profit

You are spinning it the other way. Regulation are also costing them. I'm sure lot of hotel would be fine just not having those pesky regulation getting in the way (like you know fire protection, hygiene, using legit employees, insurances, ...)

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (5, Insightful)

Diss Champ (934796) | about 6 months ago | (#45068885)

the current scheme of regulation which lets *them* profit

You are spinning it the other way. Regulation are also costing them. I'm sure lot of hotel would be fine just not having those pesky regulation getting in the way (like you know fire protection, hygiene, using legit employees, insurances, ...)

On the contrary, as long as the regulations exist and are enforced, the hotels are perfectly happy to include the costs of satisfying the city that they are in compliance (whether by complying or otherwise) by increasing what they charge people to stay. The more regulations, the harder it is for someone to enter the market and compete with them. They (probably correctly) see AirBnb as a form of competition, and are happy to use the regulations as a club to pound on the competition with.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 6 months ago | (#45069069)

Mod parent up.

Regulations are often used to protect insiders from disruptive outsiders.

The hotels have gone through the whole certification thing â" fire alarms, sprinklers, etc. I am thinking about the fire code because I think that is a legitimate area for regulation. I am sure there are other suspect areas of regulation.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (4, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#45068889)

They are competing against people renting other peoples apartments. It's a joke. This is just like the Alcohol Distributor bullshit that's all over this country. Regulations are supposed to ensure quality, but they are quickly subverted and used by the industry to lock out competition.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

LoyalOpposition (168041) | about 6 months ago | (#45068891)

Regulation are also costing them. I'm sure lot of hotel would be fine just not having those pesky regulation getting in the way (like you know fire protection, hygiene, using legit employees, insurances, ...)

Think "barriers to entry." [wikipedia.org]

~Loyal

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068945)

People stay at the Ritz precisely because its expensive. Not just anyone can afford a room there.

Those pesky regulations are part of the barrier stopping others from joining in on the hotel biz.

When only the largest corporations can afford to comply regulations, you will be left with only the largest corporations playing ball.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 6 months ago | (#45069719)

The problem is a question of volume. In most sane regulations, there are exemptions for people who stay below a certain threshold of behavior. The idea being that if problems do occur, low volume keeps it from being a problem of the scope that impacts vast numbers of people. It's the balance that is missing from the current equation.

Allowing for exemptions from regulations for low volume activities can be much more beneficial than requiring that everyone follow the exact set of regulations/licenses. A good example of this is the craft beer industry. The craft industry allows part-time/hobbyist level of activity which allows people to develop the experience and skills in brewing. Without this craft industry, I doubt that the micro-brewery industry would be even 1/10th the size it is today.

One size fits all regulation which covers both true industry and home-garage sized businesses really doesn't work, and that's why we see all these conflicts with services like AirBNB and Uber and the like.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (5, Interesting)

PktLoss (647983) | about 6 months ago | (#45068723)

I very much think the city can have an issue on its own, without the hotel lobby being involved.

Property owners are learning that they can make more money posting their apartments on AirBnB than renting them out traditionally. It's in their economic best interest to hire a cleaning service, throw in some flat-pack furniture, and stop renting normally. This distorts the rental market as people who live in the city end up competing with short-term tourists for places to live. Cities want to be somewhere people live, not just somewhere people visit.

AirBnB hosts also compete against hotels with a stacked deck. They're not forced to charge the standard hotel-night taxes, nor meet ID checking requirements on guests, pay commercial property tax, meet commercial firecode requirements, etc. I can understand why hotels would be angry, but they're far from the only group with a vested interest in the outcome.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (2)

Entropius (188861) | about 6 months ago | (#45068949)

Well, if the property is more valuable as short-term lodging for visitors than for resident rentals, then perhaps that indicates that there is high demand for that, and that this city at this time very much wants to be somewhere people visit.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069039)

There's also a high demand for cocaine, doesn't mean it's in everyone's best interest to flood the market with it.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

metlin (258108) | about 6 months ago | (#45069675)

What a silly argument. One is a drug, where addiction overrides your rational thinking ability. The other is a utilitarian necessity (i.e. shelter) and made with perfectly rational motives.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

Digicrat (973598) | about 6 months ago | (#45069317)

There's also a large number of NYers who want their own place but can't find anything affordable. I'm guessing some of those making more money in AirBnb than with legitimate rentals (or re-rentals) may be subject to rent control laws intended to keep prices affordable for tenants.

The city has a housing problem, AirBnb is just one example of its effect. Hotels in the city are (mostly) outrageously priced, as are residential apartments/condos. Nobody can live by themselves in the city unless their (a) loaded or (b) are actually sharing a place with one or more roommates.

I moved out of the city after College, and bought my own house a few years later. If I was still in the city, assuming I was making a similar salary, I'd at best be able to afford a tiny studio apartment. Not one of my friends (who make significantly less than I do) still in the city in comparison have their own place, and for the most part still live at home with their parents. Apparently, NYC is one of the only parts of the country where this is normal today, and that's primarily because its generally the only economical option.

I like the idea of AirBnb, and it's a great service for small towns. For NYC however, there are far bigger problems that require regulation to prevent a service like this from exacerbating the housing situation (not to mention ensuring safety).

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 6 months ago | (#45069859)

Personally, I can't afford a Lamborghini, so I don't buy one. Naturally since I can't afford to live in NYC, I don't do so.

There are plenty of other places to live where doing so would stand to increase your quality of life. Not because the place itself is better (it may very well not be,) but because your cost of living goes way down, which means it is far easier to live within your means. Sure, Houston isn't New York, but if that night life is your thing, or many other (insert city living required to do activity x) is your thing, you can do all of that there, and it'll cost you a lot less. You may end up finding that you get paid less a little less, but your purchasing power has increased which makes it worthwhile (you'd have to earn 2.5 times in NY what you'd have to earn in Austin to make an equivalent living.)

Besides, do you really want to live in a city where the mayor decides what you can't eat? That's New York. I remember when I was in the Army, life there was all about limits (what thou shall not do) yet they weren't allowed to tell you what to eat.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45070535)

My concern about big cities is the fact that if there is a disruption in roads and the food trucks stop coming, we will see a repeat of the Donner Party on a massive scale. Not that anyone would actually be starving, but it will be the psychological impact of nowhere to find food.

I prefer to live in a smaller town that can, should worse come to worst can be self-sustaining. People might not like having to grow chickens everywhere in order to get sufficient protein to live by, but that's a sure of a lot better than starving to death.

My fear about a city like NYC is that you cease to be an individual or a citizen there. You become a statistic. The gun control laws are obviously unconstitutional, but the sheer force of lawyerly might ensures that no upstanding citizen has a firearm. Crime is low in parts of the city... but woe to the person who doesn't know what stops to avoid.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069209)

>They're not forced to charge the standard hotel-night taxes,
Which is a stupid tax and should not exist. It's fucking retarded that people put up with "occupancy" taxes and the like.

>nor meet ID checking requirements on guests,
Which is a stupid set of laws that should not exist. Very much a "papers please" idea here.

>pay commercial property tax,
I very much doubt most of these places are not already paying this. If I rent an apartment fulltime (or own a rental property) tax is being collected on it already.

>meet commercial firecode requirements, etc.
See above.

>This distorts the rental market as people who live in the city end up competing with short-term tourists for places to live. Cities want to be somewhere people live, not just somewhere people visit.
So? In that case, maybe NYC should stop being such a shithole of over-regulated failure.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 6 months ago | (#45068847)

You mean you can't run an unregulated hotel and compete with the regulated ones? Is that a shock to you? Did you know it is also illegal to sell uninspected meat you slaughter at home?

We regulate hotels and food production for lots of reasons. Sure regulatory capture happens but the alternative just might be worse. If you want to check that out just google for china and pretty much any food item.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

gmack (197796) | about 6 months ago | (#45068933)

But this is not a hotel and customers don't expect to be treated like they are in a hotel. If I'm in a Hotel I expect clean sheets and a level or service. If I'm borrowing someone's apartment I usually bring my own sheets and expect to clean up after myself.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 6 months ago | (#45069011)

Sure, because you are a house guest not in a hotel.

I have never made money on having guests over. Typically I will not let them pay for anything, part of being a good host. I also don't tend to invite random folks into my home though.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

onepoint (301486) | about 6 months ago | (#45069791)

Disclosure : I am a realtor, I do rentals and sales

While you are taking a good stance and I completely agree that you need to bring your own stuff on these rentals. but you are forgetting the other side.

quality of life : I live in a condo, pay for security services and know my neighbors ( we are a small community of 526 units ). What worries me is that we have a stranger that is not registered and not cleared by the board ( the board has a zero tolerance policy for convicted felons with violent crimes ). so here we get a stranger that might interfere with my quality of life.

We had 2 owners that were using the services of airbnb, they were fined and we informed airbnb that our building does not do short term rentals. They complied and removed all the listing that were in our buildings.

the problems is that investors are looking to break the community rules because they "feel like it" . Association ( condo and homeowners ) have specific sections about rental policies which is why certain building have a premium and others are at a discount ( easy rental policy buildings have about a 15% premium over conservative buildings ).

in the area ( 1/2 mile radius ) we have about 5600 rentalable units, all which fall under the 1 year min. rental rule ( we have nothing in short term ) and most association are aggressively finding the owners that are doing short term rentals. Those short term renters don't have the accountability of being responsible residences and can you blame them ??? they are on vacation and want to have fun, no one blames them, it's the owners whom are the problem. ( our building has a policy that when we find short term renters, we advise them, ask them to go to the police department to get a criminal history and let them enjoy the stay )

Now let me describe my little section of town. in 20 minutes strolling ( not a NYC fast walk ) your feet are in the ocean, in 40 years we have only had 2 murders total and those look like a mob hit so they don't count, you can walk to Walmart, Winn Dixie and Publix. You can walk at 2 am and meet up with 2 or 3 undercover police officers. the demographics of the area is mixed of every race and income level ( from section 8 affordable income all the way to multimillionaires ). We are a 30 minute drive to Southbeach, 15 minutes to Fort Lauderdale airport... basically it's real nice, the sort of place where you want to call home ( vacation or full time ) and just enjoy some peaceful time ( lot's of college grad students live here also because of the affordability and lifestyle ). cheapest rent here is 800sq ft clean and decent place for 800 a month with water free.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

gmack (197796) | about 6 months ago | (#45069971)

Well that's fair, if they signed an agreement stating they would not do short term rentals than they are obligated not to and you don't need the state of NY to regulate that for you..

But keep in mind that that something like airbnb isn't necessarily a problem with maintaining a good quality of life since the renters are rated and those with poor (or no) reputation can be refused. It's the same as when I used to use ebay and certain products were only sold to people with good ratings.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069013)

It's also people who live in those buildings who don't like their neighbors renting out to people who come in a break things, bring bed bugs and cause security issues for the rest of the tenants in the building.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 6 months ago | (#45069085)

If they're cranking a profit and not reporting it, it's almost certainly an IRS and state tax thing right?

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069203)

NYC has its own income tax, on top of state and federal taxes.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069215)

You will rapidly change your mind when your neighbour becomes an airbnb. You will find bunches of people paying pittance and holding all night parties, inviting hundreds of facebook friends, having no respect for the property they are in, no respect for you or your home. Then the next weekend you get to look forward to it all again with another group.

For this reason it needs to be illegal everywhere. (and probably will be soon) You can't take a business which is regulated and controlled to minimise impact (e.g hotels, holiday lettings, party venues) and claim you have the right to do it anywhere you want because new technology suddenly enabled it.

Airbnb landlords are either already operating illegally or be as legislation changes to prevent it. Homes are not businesses. They are homes.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069499)

I have had this exact thing happen in my neck of the woods. A neighbor rents their place out, so pretty often the street is packed with cars, and sometimes people wind up parking in my driveway. Funny how slow people act to move cars, but how fast they do when the tow truck comes to the area.

It gets old having 4-10 different people, usually whooping it up all night, trashing the area. Oftentimes, there are things missing when I come out in the morning, be it sprinklers or even trash cans. Could be worse. The other neighbor had a hose stuffed in the mail slot and turned on, causing tens of thousands of dollars of water damage.

The only reason this stopped is that a number of people around this guy had to get the local city on the neighbor's case about not paying the city bed tax... and trust me, government organizations don't care about much, but if they find someone isn't paying taxes, they come in spades.

If someone wants to operate a hotel or a bed/breakfast, fine. However, neighbors are not going to be appreciative having strange people coming/going at all hours of the night.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069283)

Actually, the government wants their transient occupancy tax. I don't know New York City - but many areas have 10%-15% Transient Occupancy Tax. You can bet your last dollar that the government is much more concerned about this than about hotels making a profit or about any concern for people being "ripped off" by AirBNB users.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069433)

Look past the article's version of the cast ... ...and use your's instead? I don't really care about NYC or the poor widdle startup that decided flaunting the law was a reasonable business model. The existing laws aren't just about the interests of established hotels in the city, NYC has laws designed to preserve affordable housing. One aspect is rent control and rent stabilization, another is preventing every last person from turning their rental homes into vacation stay properties. Sure the laws are an inelegant way of achieving those goals, but all laws are.

The established hotels are just as much of a red herring as "turning a profit." NYC has a hosing problem, I'm not saying that their existing laws are any good, I'm saying that if you want to talk about the laws at play, talk about their actual purpose.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 months ago | (#45069757)

I don't really care about NYC or the poor widdle startup that decided flaunting the law was a reasonable business model.
I don't really see where airbnb has done anything wrong. it is their clients which are flaunting the law, and probably not even all of their clients. This is about the same as shutting down an ISP because some of the traffic that goes through their pipe is child porn.

Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#45069699)

well technically "the city" has rules when it comes to providing bedding to strangers. so doing it for profit and to strangers on short term basis without license indeed is and has been illegal. technically it is for this reason also against airbnb's rules - you're supposed to be "friends" with whoever you're getting the room from. of course what do you need airbnb as a middleman taking a cut if you really are..

complain against hotel regulation if you want, but technically using airbnb to rent rooms to strangers for profit is abuse of airbnb rules!. nevermind that airbnb is popular and created for that exact purpose, but they have to pretend that they are not.

the city should have asked to get those who repeatedly rent rooms though.. would have been more useful to them than just a big list of it's users. hell, they can see the listings themselves...

You Fail To Understand Or Willfully Ignore... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45070167)

1. The city is potentially (they don't know yet, hence the subpoena) losing lots of money as the AirBnB people aren't paying the substantial bed taxes.

2. The established hoteliers are right to be up in arms about it, as they do collect and pay those taxes, their cost/pricing will be significantly higher than "competitors" who are cheating the tax.

3. Low supply of rooms? WTF? There is no shortage of rooms! There may be a shortage of really cheap rooms that do not charge hotel tax. But, those rooms are illegal and are abusing the tax system.

Profit makers (1)

mynameiskhan (2689067) | about 6 months ago | (#45070425)

So it is the already existing profit makers, who are trying to kill a new model of upcoming profit makers... and of course in a democracy there is the possibility of get it done by lobbying.

How dare people try and turn a profit (5, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | about 6 months ago | (#45068545)

AirBnb, please tell the city to go F itself. If the city has a problem with certain property owners they can request data on those specific owners. The city shouldn't be permitted to go on a fishing expedition to prove a theory.

This is just like the NSA demanding all phone records from Verizon with the possibility that only a few may be terrorists.

Re:How dare people try and turn a profit (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 6 months ago | (#45068683)

If the city has a problem with certain property owners they can request data on those specific owners.

I wonder when they seize my-diary.com if they're still going to claim third-party disclosure as a legal theory and insist that people have no expectation of privacy in their data.

The city shouldn't be permitted to go on a fishing expedition to prove a theory.

You say that like the 4th Amendment applies to Herr Bloomberg.

This is just like the NSA demanding all phone records from Verizon with the possibility that only a few may be terrorists.

NYC has its own army, its own missiles - why not its own NSA? Those guys in DC shouldn't get to do all the goosestepping!

Re:How dare people try and turn a profit (2)

cb88 (1410145) | about 6 months ago | (#45068869)

Well  even if it were your hand written paper diary. You wrote that on 3rd party paper right? So clearly you have no expectation of privacy. Now had you made your own paper from your own trees we may have considered allowing you to slip by however that is not the case at all.

Down with privacy!

Probably cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068557)

No probably cause required for the individuals? They NY attorney general cannot believe that all of the people he requested information on are committing crimes. AirBnB should reject the request and fight it in court.

Re:Probably cause (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068587)

Yes, he can. It is illegal in New York to rent real estate for any length of time without the proper permits and licenses. Listing a room on AirBnB is prima facie evidence that you've broken these laws and easilly rises to the level of probable cause (with an "e").

Re:Probably cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068679)

They could still fight to only give out the list of details for those people who actually rented a room, as surely the crime is not just posting a listing but the actual renting of a room?

Re:Probably cause (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 6 months ago | (#45068963)

So in New York the following is illegal:

"Hey, want to crash at my place?"
"Sure, I'll buy you dinner."

Re:Probably cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069071)

Since 9/11, yes.

Re:Probably cause (3, Insightful)

Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) | about 6 months ago | (#45069147)

No, that is not illegal. Just like your colleague giving you a cross-country lift in his car if you split the petrol cost is not illegal.

Or going for a flight in your colleague's aeroplane and paying the landing fees.

However, as soon as it crosses the line to advertised and remunerated 'hire for reward' it becomes a regulated activity. If your colleague regularly flies people in his aeroplane and charges a fare, then he has to start obeying.

Re:Probably cause (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 months ago | (#45069807)

Yes, he can. It is illegal in New York to rent real estate for any length of time without the proper permits and licenses. Listing a room on AirBnB is prima facie evidence that you've broken these laws and easilly rises to the level of probable cause (with an "e").

So if you list a room for rent on AirBnB, that automatically means that all of your permits and licenses are revoked? I'm sure there are some people who just decided to list a room without going through proper channels, but anybody running a real BnB would have gotten all of those permits and licenses. This article, and apparently most people on slashdot make the assumption that nobody who ever starts a BnB actually obtains the necessary permits.

Re:Probably cause (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 6 months ago | (#45068751)

The city will say it has probable cause to show that AirBnB is participating in a fraudulent scheme to circumvent hotel regulations and taxes. They need AirBnB's records to show that is the case. This is what subpoenas are for.

Who needs the money more? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 6 months ago | (#45068585)

Well, on one hand New York City really needs the money. On the other hand, these AirBNB rent-seekers are already well-off (because they [a] live in New York City and [b] could afford SO much extra space that they actually have ROOMS TO RENT) don't need any extra money. These disruptive technologies need to be shut down before they impact the bottom line.

The City of New York likes to wet its beak in everything. No matter what your racket is, as long as it's in cousin Vinny's turf then you gotta pay the man. Or else this - just like in the article - cousin Vinny makes a few connections to find out where you live. Then, you get a threat and either you pay or the enforcers show up at your door to beat some sense into you, Brooklyn-style. I (heart) NY. Why would anyone live anywhere else?

Re:Who needs the money more? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#45068625)

these AirBNB rent-seekers

That's an interesting play on words (here, "rent-seeking") since NYC and the established hotels are the actual rent-seekers here (in the economic sense).

Re:Who needs the money more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068643)

I love the tongue-in-cheek commentary.

Seriously, if the United States ever needed an enema they'd stick the tube in New York. Just as corrupt as New Orleans but with more lights and a higher cost of living. Second only to Filthadelphia Pennsylvania, "The City of Brotherly Shove".

Re:Who needs the money more? (1)

andydread (758754) | about 6 months ago | (#45068721)

yeah and add Texas to the list.

Re:Who needs the money more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069029)

The place that's renowned for friendliness? The place that is literally named after the concept of "friends"? Are you sure this isn't some Bizarro World where up is down and left is right? Did a Texan beat the shit out of you once for being an asshole or something?

It's understandable, a lot of Philadelphians and New Yorkers cannot conceive of a place where people aren't dicks or where you wouldn't enjoy being a dick to random people you meet. Sad but true (confirmed by personal experience).

Re:Who needs the money more? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069773)

People in Texas just want their government to be dicks to people who aren't like them. (See laws on abortions, LGBT rights, science education, etc.)

Re:Who needs the money more? (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 6 months ago | (#45068657)

To be fair, I know a few people that rent rooms via Airbnb, and while one or two actually do have extra space that they can rent, the majority either own dedicated rental properties near a beach, or travel quite a bit for work, and rent their primary residences while they're away.

I know that this is purely anecdotal, but not everyone that rents via Airbnb is a rich, selfish snob who doesn't need any extra money.

What a Shithole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068605)

I left NYC in 1983 and never looked back. The place is as big a shithole today as it was then, except with some added tyranny to make things fun.

Fuck you Mayor Bloomberg. You and your whole goddamn city are an embarrassment to humanity.

Re:What a Shithole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45070435)

Pussy. If you had bought property instead of running away you would be rich now.

AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068653)

Am right now 5:20 AM in the morning in Los Angeles in AirBNB HELL!!! The property management company for the building next door has started renting out units on AirBNB, probably not telling the property owner and collecting the difference in rent. Right now there is a huge party going on next door and it started at 3 AM. This is not the first time this has happened. Tenants in the building couldn't park in their own spots because the party guests took them last time. When they complained to management they where told if you pay as much as their paying in rent you can have the spot back. Am sure the cops have been called more then once. Am guessing that the tenets will sue because keeping a peaceful residence is one of major parts of leases. I've also told one or two of them that I am keeping a log and am willing to testify in any court case. Speaking of which am going to call the cops just to have an official record of my complaint.

AirBNB needs to figure this out or be made illegal. End of fucking story. If I get fired from work for being up all night. I will talk to a lawyer about using AirBNB.

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 6 months ago | (#45068787)

Am guessing that the tenets will sue...

I am sure that tenets cannot sue.

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (1)

onepoint (301486) | about 6 months ago | (#45070475)

maybe, lease contract have quality of life issues. so they need to file complaints with the police, then present that report to the management company and the association ( if it's a condo ). once those steps are done, you need to wait about 30 days to see if any action is taken. if not, then you can break your lease within reason.

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068795)

feeling sore because you weren't invited?

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 6 months ago | (#45068973)

feeling sore because you weren't invited?

He has a point. The first rule of having loud, wild parties is to invite all the neighbors.

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 6 months ago | (#45069001)

This has nothing to do with AirBNB and everything to do with a garden-variety disturbance of the peace and trespassing (on the parking spots). Don't blame AirBNB for people being dicks; the criminals here were the guests.

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069049)

You don't understand... According to the people here, AIRBNB users should be able to rent out their apartments and bring anyone into your building to disturb your peace and you shouldn't be able to do anything about it.. Fuck you! How dare your stop websites like airBNB. You are stopping progress.

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069305)

You realize that even apartment buildings that rent rooms aren't responsible for making sure everyone follows the rules. There are general noise ordinances in most cities that deal with this. You complain to the non emergency police and they come and fine them and or the landowners. If it's a problem and they're called multiple times they'll write out summons for disturbing the peace and break up the party. It's a fairly simple affair. Stop complaining and do something about it and learn how to deal with problems like that. It'll help you live life.

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 months ago | (#45070131)

Yea, and this one company advertised their hammers on Google Adwords, and then somebody bought one of the hammers and hit somebody in the head with it. Google needs to be shut down!

Re:AirBNB HELL!!!!!!! (1)

onepoint (301486) | about 6 months ago | (#45070443)

I feel your pain, it's a quality of life issue. this is the sort of thing you need to file with the local city a complaint, Your owner ( if you rent ) that there is a problem in the community and if you are an owner read the association rules about the rental policy.

I am rather sure that if you are assigned a parking spot, no one else can use it. and if it's on your lease or purchase contract, just walk downstairs, call the tow truck company and present your valid proof that your spot is in violation with a trespasser, let them hook up. Keep that up for a month or 2 and the building will revert back to normal. ( I happen to have 1 parking spot that I rarely use, I always find someone using it, call the tow truck company and poof it's gone )

How dare they! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45068659)

WE WANT OUR CUT OF THE PROFITS!

See... The mob never REALLY went away. It learned. Now the mob runs the goverment.

Don't operate a startup in the US any more (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 6 months ago | (#45068731)

If you have a big idea it's likely to ruffle some feathers of legacy players in the space where you're trying to innovate. Increasingly, those players will have purchased favorable legislation that will be used against you if you start luring their customers away with better offerings. If you're located in the US you'll have no effective defense against that kind of shakedown.

Internet-delivered services can be provided from anywhere in the world - it's far safer to base these businesses in an entirely different country if they are going to accept US customers.

Re:Don't operate a startup in the US any more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069365)

it's far safer to base these businesses in an entirely different country if they are going to accept US customers

Not. If you are US-based you will receive some polite legal hassle. If you are foreign you will be arrested and thrown in federal prison to await trial if you are unlucky enough to find your plane diverted into US airspace. If you're lucky you'll just get the swat team [zeropaid.com].

The moral is clear. Don't do business with the US. Ever.

You are boss (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 6 months ago | (#45068887)

> That's about 225,000 users

It's important you 225,000 let the elected officials know your displeasure at this at the next election. Especially the ones who throw up their hands and say, "I had nothing to do with this!"

Re:You are boss (2)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#45069239)

It's important you 225,000 let the elected officials know your displeasure at this at the next election. Especially the ones who throw up their hands and say, "I had nothing to do with this!"

The population of New York is 8.3 million. Quite a few I suspect who have no interest whatever in seeing their apartment building being transformed into a cut-price hotel --- without hotel security, fire protection and so on.

Re:You are boss (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 6 months ago | (#45070221)

The population of New York is 8.3 million. Quite a few I suspect who have no interest whatever in seeing their apartment building being transformed into a cut-price hotel --- without hotel security, fire protection and so on.

In order to operate a BnB, the land has to be zoned for it. Being an apartment, it may already be. However, if it is not, the rezoning needs to be run through city council. Any property owners (not renters) within X distance are notified of the request to change the zoning. Even if you are just a resident, you can still show up to city hall and voice your displeasure.

we, de Blasio is the next mayor... (2)

swb (14022) | about 6 months ago | (#45070073)

...barring any newly released sex tapes, heroin possession charges or anything similar.

I'm not sure where de Blasio stands on this issue specifically but somehow I suspect that he's not really going to take a real entrepreneurial tack on it.

NYC has a major affordable housing problem and I'm sure there's affordable housing advocates that would argue that residential property should be residential or at least only usable for residential purposes, which makes some sense from a supply/demand perspective for residential housing and I'd wager that de Blasio is a big supporter of affordable housing initiatives.

Then there's the unions -- he's a democrat and I'm sure the hospitality unions back any initiative that's pro-hotel, and union support is something de Blasio wants.

And then there's the hotel industry generally which is probably not a lobbying entity which can be easily ignored, especially if they can get the unions on their side of an issue.

How government "solves" your prolbems (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069057)

THIS is how governments "solve" your problems - by selling themselves to the highest bidder. In this case, the local hotel industry.

Give the government more power and it will be used against you.

And guess what? Saying "everyone needs to pay their fair share of taxes" gives government more power

Taxes. They WILL be used against you.

Can you spell "NSA"? Or "TSA"?

Fascist government is fascist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069287)

No freedom exists, except where we tell you to be free.

What about wall street? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069705)

So the AG can't or rather won't go after wall street, or the corrupt cops, but he wants to go after these guys?

Clearly, all across our country, the problem isn't so much the police and judges.. It's the prosicutors and Attorney Generals, that make the decisions of who to go after.

Be civilized and legal, but everybody needs to go after the A.G's and prosicutors, in order to get our legal system back under control from these gangsters.

Par for the course. (4, Insightful)

runeghost (2509522) | about 6 months ago | (#45069753)

Ignore billions in mortgage and other bank fraud, then go after the little people trying to make ends meet.

my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069819)

I've used air bnb a few times. Once in Amsterdam and once in Brugge Belgium. In Amsterdam it was more of hotel-ish without the service. They seemed to be renting out the whole house.

In Brugge it was just a persons house who had a spare room on the top floor. It was much better staying in a hotel since we could have a full kitchen at our disposal and being in a house where real people live is better than a hotel. The hosts in Brugge were great and invited me and my girlfriend to come back anytime.

My girlfriend also used airbnb when she want to Italy. Not sure of how that was setup.

Wrong numbers in summary - it's 15,000 not 225,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069845)

From the article:

The site has 225,000 users in the city, but only data from those who rent out their place is being sought, according to sources. That would affect only about 15,000 of New Yorkers.

Better off without? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45069863)

Government often discourages the generation of wealth and the reduction in prices of goods and services.

AirBnB saves me a *ton* of money - in fact, it is qualitative improvement, for where it is so much cheaper, I can do things now which I simply could *not* do before, because hotels are so expensive. I'm not just wealthier because of it, my life is fundamentally better.

On the whole I suspect Government is more harmful than beneficial. We'd do better, overall, without it touching business, than with it regulating and discouraging as it does.
 

Try finding a room in Manhattan... (2)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about 6 months ago | (#45069899)

Try finding a room in Manhattan (that isn't a shithole) for under $200 a night.

Yup, that's exactly why this company is being harassed. The established hotels are enjoying their little collective monopoly that causes the concept of an affordable hotel room in Manhattan to be a pipe dream.

You see things like this (ridiculously high hotel room prices) and become suspicious that there is some sort of "cartel" or organization propping them up. Then you see news articles like that and your thoughts are vindicated. There is so much damn corruption out there...

What happened to the free market? (1)

generic_screenname (2927777) | about 6 months ago | (#45070519)

Is there a compelling reason why this should be illegal? If someone has extra capacity in their home (couch, spare bedroom, vacancy from being on vacation) then why should the city care? And if landlords are finding that they can make extra money by not being landlords anymore, isn't that a different problem?
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