Airbnb Inc. kicked more than a thousand listings in New York City off its site last November before sharing data on its business there. The cuts helped paint a rosier picture of the home-rental website's operations and quell concerns it's driving up home prices.
Airbnb said it removed about 1,500 listings from 622 hosts as part of the effort. The company disclosed the removals in a letter to New York state legislators on Wednesday as it faces criticism over becoming a platform for unregulated hotels. Airbnb had not outlined the extent of its removals when it initially presented the data publicly in December.
The deleted listings accounted for about 4 percent of those offered in the city. Josh Meltzer, the company's head of public policy in New York, wrote in the letter to legislators that the listings "did not reflect Airbnb's vision for our community."
Airbnb has faced questions from city officials who have said real-estate developers are using Airbnb to rent out homes instead of selling them to permanent residents. The practice risks driving up housing prices. Airbnb defeated a proposal in San Francisco last year that would have restricted the company's business in its hometown. Airbnb spent $8 million to fight the effort.
"In New York City, where housing prices and availability are a critical issue, we want to work with our community and policymakers to help prevent short-term rentals from impacting the availability and cost of permanent housing for city residents," Meltzer wrote in the letter. "While home sharing has been around for centuries, our people-to-people home sharing platform is new. And Airbnb is a young company. We have learned that a one-size fits all approach to cities will not work."
Along with the letter to New York lawmakers, Airbnb released updated data on its operations in the city. Of hosts renting their entire homes in New York City, 38 percent of revenue came from those listing two or more homes on the website. Hosts with six or more homes on Airbnb generated 6 percent of revenue.
Meltzer said Airbnb has removed thousands of listings in New York City over the past few years. The BBC reported last week that it has also been deleting some rentals in London, where the site has faced similar resistance from officials.