Airbnb is Lying to Los Angeles

A report by SubletSpy 
SubletSpy alerts landlords to illegal subletters so they can stop or evict the tenants.

Fast Facts:

  • Airbnb’s statistics & survey method are suspect; they have a history of lying to city governments and deleting records.
  • Airbnb took away over 4600 homes, including rent-stabilized apartments, from local residents.
  • Even according to Airbnb’s bogus claim that crime should be allowed if it’ll pay your rent and prevent eviction or foreclosure, that’s a net loss of 1600 homes.
  • Airbnb costs Los Angeles $30.5M+ in hotel tax revenue.
  • Airbnb costs Los Angeles $10.4M+ in business tax revenue.
  • Airbnb costs LA $197M+ in hotel bookings, 
    (and really much more since houses have multiple rooms, but count as a single booking, whereas folks will often book multiple hotel rooms).
  • Airbnb dishonestly inflates economic impact by $486M,
  • Airbnb dishonestly doubles the accepted economic impact of each tourist.

Airbnb in Los Angeles is mostly professional operators:

  • Just 10 LA hosts control 200 units in LA and 291 overall
    (meaning they operate outside LA, as well).
  • 600 units are controlled by just 40 hosts.
    (They have another 142 units outside LA.)
  • These top hosts have average of 344 reviews per host — they are not renting “occasionally”, but running illegal hotels.

Bottom line: Airbnb costs Los Angeles and its businesses over $237M yearly.

Dishonest Airbnb is at it again, this time lying to Los Angeles…

Let’s address their lies and misdirection, which they posted as if they’re some sort of community organization and not deep-pocketed organized crime.

DISHONEST AIRBNB: “In 2015, the Airbnb community generated more than $670 million in economic activity and an estimated $920 million in economic impact in the city of Los Angeles.”


By their own numbers, Airbnb cost Los Angeles over $30.5M in hotel taxes, and $197M in hotel bookings, costing jobs, and took away over 4600 homes, including rent-stabilized apartments, from local residents.

And Airbnb’s own numbers are so ludicrous they’re highly suspect:

Dishonest Airbnb claims 560,000 guests stayed, there are 2.2 guests on average per trip (= 254,545 bookings), and the average trip is 4.5 days. Going with their suspect numbers, that puts us at 1.1M guest nights.

Dishonest Airbnb then says they generated $920M of economic impact, on those 1.1M visitors. That means Airbnb claims a tourist generates $836 of economic impact on LA, when in fact, the average tourist impact on LA is half that, $442.

That’s a $486M lie!

But it gets worse:

Not only is Airbnb lying about $486M, they’re costing Los Angeles over $197M in hotel bookings and $30.5M in hotel tax revenue.

That’s $227.5 in “impact” they’re not counting, so it’s really a $713.5M lie!

There’s also lost business tax revenue & rental income revenue:

Businesses in LA have a minimum $800 tax. By Airbnb’s own numbers there are about 13,043 hosts. As renting for transient use in LA is a business, but these are most-often not registered businesses, Airbnb may be costing LA another minimum $10,434,400 in unreported tax revenue according to their own numbers. On top of that landlords using Airbnb instead of renting cost the city about $.3M in fees.

Dishonest Airbnb’s sob stories are bogus — LA loses way more homes & money than even Airbnb claims to save:

DISHONEST AIRBNB: “In 2015, the typical host in Los Angeles earned $7,000 from hosting on Airbnb.”

Lies. Professional operators of illegal hotels account for the vast majority of Airbnb activity in Los Angeles. : These top hosts have average of 344 reviews per host, putting their revenues hundreds of thousands above Airbnb’s dishonest number.

The “typical” Airbnb host in LA, which we’ll define as those with whom the majority of bookings occur, operates more than 10 listings, and does so illegally. Just 10 LA hosts control 200 units in LA and 291 overall (meaning they operate outside LA, as well). 600 units are controlled by just 40 hosts (They have another 142 units outside LA).

DISHONEST AIRBNB: “13% of hosts said that their income from hosting has prevented them from losing their home to foreclosure. And another 10% of hosts said that their income from hosting has saved them from losing their home to eviction.”

First, what a horrible argument. Drug dealers might say they should be able to deal heroin because it pays their rent. Illegal is illegal. But it’s dishonest anyway…

Because these are non-primary homes, they are taking away homes 4600 entire homes needed by folks who need to work and live in LA. Even with Airbnb’s bogus claim that crime should be allowed if it’ll pay for your home, that’s a net loss of 1600 homes.

However, it’s worse, because in many instances leases and laws make subletting for less than 30 days an evictable offense, and violation of government support programs, so these people are inviting eviction, not preventing it.

They’re also turning your apartment building & street into a hotel: With an average of 344 reviews per top-40 host, not only are they professional operators, but they’re bringing a heavy flow of strangers into residential neighborhoods — turning apartment buildings and residential streets into heavily-trafficked transient spaces. They’re not only taking-away 4600 homes, they’re making tens of thousands of homes less safe.


For the safety of its residents and businesses, and their ability to live and work in their city, Los Angeles leaders should follow Berlin, Austin, and NYC in keeping sub-30 day rentals in Los Angeles illegal.

  • All rentals less than 30 days should be illegal.
  • All rentals less than 30 days should be an “incurable offense”, as in NYC, warranting eviction. Turning your fellow neighbors’ apartment building or street into an illegal hotel should get you booted without another chance.
  • Any sublets listed online for properties in Los Angeles should require (1) the full address, (2) full name of the landlord and (2b) operator (if different), real photos of the (3) face of the operator and (3b) landlord (if different), and (4) current photos of the face of the building, to be publicly displayed. All photos should be less than 30 days old at the time of posting. (This doesn’t mean they need to take professional marketing photos every 30 days, just a 5MP+ snapshot on a cellphone. People and buildings change, and this reassures guests they’re getting what’s expected.)
  • It should be a felony to use (1) fake photos or (2) fake ID, or (3) fail to display the real face and name of the landlord or operator (3) fail to profile the real address, when advertising a sublet or rental of any kind. As it is already a crime to traffic in fake ID, the laws should be clarified to include use of fake information when advertising or conducting rental, lease, and sublet transactions.

Bottom Line:

Airbnb brings dangerous people, using fake ID, into people’s apartment buildings and residential neighborhoods.

Airbnb also brings unsuspecting guests to stay with folks using fake IDs in illegal hotels. Airbnb not only knows this, but actively built its business around it.

Airbnb is an organized crime organization, not a “trusted community”. They mislead and lie to regulators, hosts, and guests. Only a corrupt or incompetent government would stand by and allow Airbnb to continue operating in their city.

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Hosted / Active Hosts: Hosts who have had guests leave reviews.
Activity : To simplify we’re measuring activity by number of guest reviews. While not every booking gets a review, almost all do. Booking calendars confirm this.
Professional operators: hosts running multiple units

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  • Friend or Fraud : Named one of Israel’s top-6 cyber startups, Friend or Fraud verifies identity and reads breathing, heart rate, neurological signs, and other vitals, live off any webcam, mobile, or connected camera. It also uses artificial intelligence that understands words and pictures like humans to identify and de-anonymize bad actors. Its mission is to, “save lives and protect vulnerable people”. SubletSpy is a separate entity that uses some Friend or Fraud services.
  • In addition to SubletSpy, Ari Teman is the founder of Friend or Fraud, which Visa Europe recently chose as one of the top-6 cyber startups in Israel to highlight by DLD. He’s the founder of the 12gurus:Health and12gurus:Charity conferences, featured on TED as “Best of the Web”. He founded JCorps and built it to the largest Jewish volunteer network, operating in 7 cities with thousands of members from over 180 schools, 800 companies, in the USA, Israel, and Canada. A patent-holding inventor and technologist, he was a “dot com” kid who built intranets at ages 15–17 for Sanford Bernstein & Morgan Stanley. He was named the Jewish Federation of North America’s “Hero of the Year”, the Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36”, and has been quoted in the NYTimes, featured in Inc Magazine, and been seen on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PIX, MSNBC, BBC, Vh1. A standup comedian, under the stage name “Ari Silver”, he’s performed in clubs around the USA, Canada, and Israel, for ambassadors, at Israel’s national theater HaBima, and joked for the President in the White House.

Everything in this article is stated as opinion and not fact. Do not act without your own research. We make no representation as to the accuracy of these numbers or facts. By using SubletSpy or its information you accept its terms.


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