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Report on Airbnb’s effects on New York rents disputed by data provider

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AirDNA says there are “several crucial errors” in comptroller Scott Stringer’s report on NYC rents and Airbnb

Max Touhey

A recent report by New York City comptroller Scott Stringer’s office, alleging that Airbnb has played a significant role in causing rent spikes across the city, has been called into question not only by Airbnb itself, but by the data source used for much of the report’s findings.

Stringer’s office based its findings on data by AirDNA, a company that “presents market reports and other data products that feature occupancy rates, seasonal demand, and revenue generated by short-term rentals,” according to its website.

In a statement, the company said that it “disputes” the findings in Stringer’s report, and that “at no point did the Comptroller contact AirDNA to ask for guidance or our professional expertise on how to read the data, leading to several crucial errors in his interpretation of the numbers.”

At issue is Stringer’s methodology; his analysis included all New York City Airbnb listings—including entire homes, shared rooms, and private rooms—over a period of seven years, which AirDNA says is “totally misguided,” as it assumes each type of listing has a similar effect on the city’s rental market. AirDNA says its data shows that more than half of New York City listings are available for less than three months, which would not have the impact Stringer’s report claims.

“The Comptroller is once again using Airbnb as a scapegoat for a housing affordability crisis that has been growing for decades,” AirDNA CEO Scott Shatford said in a statement. “In New York City, just over 5,300 Entire Homes were rented on Airbnb for six months or more in the past year, representing 0.2% of the total housing supply—it is impossible for Airbnb to have a material impact on housing prices.”

Airbnb, unsurprisingly, has also called the report’s findings into question; the company’s head of global policy, Chris Lehane, released an open letter taking Stringer to task for using “improperly obtained” data, and asked his office to “retract this inaccurate report, be transparent with the facts and finally get around to working constructively on this issue when it comes to seriously confronting the real problems that plague New York City’s housing market.”

Stringer, however, stands by the report; in his own statement, the comptroller noted that the city has cracked down on instances of landlords converting rent-stabilized units to illegal Airbnb hotels, and that the company has a history of “distracting and discrediting any independent governmental investigations into the effect their illegal operations have on local housing markets.”

“If the company actually cared about real New Yorkers, they would work with the City to track down those who violate the law by releasing raw data on all hosts, rather than cherry-picking information that they know makes enforcement impossible,” Stringer said in the statement.