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Airbnb Deleted Nearly 100 Illegal San Francisco Listings In January

The company says it will continue to “examine [its] broader community” and remove listings that could otherwise be rented to full-time tenants.

Posted on April 4, 2016, at 3:51 p.m. ET

Airbnb is looking into potential bad actors on the site.

After releasing some data this weekend about the way people use Airbnb in its hometown of San Francisco, the company has vowed to crack down on listings that violate the city’s short-term rental regulations.

The company says most of the 7,046 Airbnb hosts in San Francisco use the platform legally — renting just a room in their house, or renting out a single, entire home for 30 days or more.

But some Airbnb accounts in San Francisco list multiple properties — according to Airbnb, 1,149 (or 12%) of the listings on the site were posted by a host with more than one Airbnb property.

Some of those people are operating licensed hotels. But Airbnb’s analysis found 288 hosts controlling a total of 671 properties whose rental practices on the site “could be impacting the availability of long term rental housing in the city.” In the data report, the company said it plans to “examine” those listings in hopes of finding and removing the “unwanted commercial operators.”

Airbnb has already begun removing some of these accounts from the platform; the company says it deleted nearly 100 in January of this year alone.

“We intend to continue removing listings that we believe are offered by hosts with multiple entire home listings or are offered by unwelcome commercial operators,” the report reads. “Going forward, we will examine our broader community – including hosts with only one listing – and continue to develop more tools so we can help hosts share the homes in which they live, not homes that would otherwise be on the long-term rental market.”

Recently, Airbnb took a lot of heat in New York City for quietly removing illegal listings before releasing a data report much like the one it just released in San Francisco; critics said the company intentionally purged the site to create the appearance of compliance before “voluntarily” releasing the New York data in December. Airbnb later admitted removing “roughly 1,500 of the over 37,000 listings in New York City” during November 2015.

Airbnb says it will contact the remaining 288 potentially “unwelcome” hosts in San Francisco directly in an attempt to figure out whether their use of the platform is reducing housing stock in the city. Hosts whose listings were deleted who try to return to the site could see their accounts banned.

When contacted by BuzzFeed news, a spokesperson for Airbnb declined to comment on the report.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.