Just before Memorial Day, two couples—one from the U.K., one from the U.S.—showed up to the same two-bedroom apartment in New York’s East Village, each having been promised it was theirs for the weekend. Their Airbnb host was nowhere to be found. A different man, who had accidentally checked the U.S. couple into the wrong place, came down to sort out the situation, bearing a laminated page listing who was staying when in each of the building’s units. He apologized for the mix-up, saying the host was in Israel, and relocated the Americans to another spot a couple of floors upstairs.
The Americans couldn’t have been happier. They weren’t really a couple; they were private investigators conducting a sting operation to prove the host was breaking state law by running a de facto hotel. At most New York City residences it’s illegal to rent an entire unit for less than 30 days if the host isn’t present or if it’s being rented to more than two people. The PIs say the data they gathered from their visit and city records show the host lives outside the city and advertises what appear to be the same rooms on a website pitching vacation homes. They’ve shared these findings with city regulators, who say they don’t comment on pending investigations.
This kind of operation is the ground-level strategy of Share Better, a partnership between hotel union and industry leaders aiming to expose illegal Airbnb activity.
Read the full story at Bloomberg.