How Airbnb Hurts You, Breaks the Law, and Lies About It

A report by SubletSpy


  • 1.4% of hosts account for 25% of all Airbnb activity in NYC.
  • Less than 4.5% of hosts account for 50% of all Airbnb activity in NYC.
  • Airbnb founder Brian Chesky actively recruited corporate apartment managers to create illegal hotel inventory.
  • 10,701 Airbnb apartments in NYC are listed by “professional operators”, folks with multiple units, of which 6027 are active.
  • 56% of the NYC hosts Airbnb includes in their marketing have no activity, significantly distorting the numbers, misleading law enforcement, the public, and perhaps investors.
  • Recently Airbnb purged over 1000 records before opening sets of data to the city, some hosts have already reappeared.
  • Airbnb continues to add tools, such as Distill Networks, to block the analysis of its illegal activities. (They’ve been unable to stop SubletSpy, but appear to have stopped others like InsideAirbnb.)
  • SubletSpy has Airbnb history back to 2010 and can de-anonymize most Airbnb hosts & listings. You can monitor your units at
Introducing SubletSpy: A tool to help landlords & cities fight Airbnb
Today we’re introducing SubletSpy which uses artificial intelligence to de-anonymize Airbnb hosts and give landlords, management, and law enforcement alerts of suspected illegal sublets. You can sign up at and get emails when we find an illegal sublet in one of your monitored units. Monitoring a unit costs as little as $1 a month.
Why are we doing this?
Airbnb does incredible harm to residents, landlords, and businesses in cities around the world. It knowingly breaks the law to do this, and has from its beginning, when founder, Brian Chesky actively recruited corporate sublet operators for inventory. Airbnb would have you think it’s made of regular individuals trying to make a few extra bucks, but half its active inventory is run by professional operators who lease dozens and sometimes hundreds of units for the purpose of running illegal hotels, taking thousands of homes away from real residents. More:

Airbnb eliminates thousands of homes

Right now, there are over 18,400 full apartments on Airbnb in NYC, and about 36,000 rooms, which means when you go to look for a place to live in NYC, there’s a good chance the room you might have lived in is instead being run as an illegal hotel.

Unlike Uber or Gett, where adding a black cab doesn’t take away the ability of a yellow cab to work, when an apartment gets turned into an illegal hotel it’s no longer available as a home.

Oh, and 10,701 of those full apartments are run by professional operators with multiple listings, not “regular folks struggling to get by” as Airbnb tries to dupe you into thinking. This is organized crime.

Not a New Yorker?

The problem is about as bad in Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and cities around the world, from Tel Aviv, to Paris, to Berlin. SubletSpy monitors Airbnb across all its locations.

Higher rent

Fewer rooms (a decrease in supply), means higher rents (increase demand). As well, as hosts make a profit, landlords can increase rents without protest, and the city has seen a staggering jump in rent rates since Airbnb arrived.

A unit that would have cost you $1450 in Bushwick, Brooklyn for example, now earns about $6000 as an illegal hotel on Airbnb.


When you book at a hotel, you’re in a place built for strangers: There are trained staff guarding the door, guests provide government ID, there are security camera systems, your room has multiple locks, the furniture and structure are flame resistant, and it’s constantly cleaned and treated to prevent bed-bugs. Hotel staff have papers, are licensed and trained as needed, and have background checks.

Residential buildings are not built for hosting strangers.

You have no idea who an Airbnb host is allowing into your building, and neither do they. Airbnb admits in its fine print that it cannot vouch for the safety or trustworthiness of any guest or host. Hosts and guests have been sexually assaulted.

Worse, Airbnb has been a hotbed of illegal activity, with hosts and guests involved in: drugs, prostitution, human trafficking, money laundering, unlicensed illegal hotels, unregulated porn production, and more.

This is why de Blasio failing to stop Airbnb, and why even a single illegal hotel, is so dangerous.

Bad for businesses & jobs

It’s also bad for businesses (the things that create jobs!), too.

A family or group of roommates could have lived in that apartment, which means businesses have a more difficult time recruiting talent, and need to pay more to cover higher rents. (Though one could argue Airbnb does us a service by pushing out Millennials.).

It’s also terrible for jobs. Hotels employ thousands of workers, needed to keep the place safe, clean, and enjoyable. Illegal sublets don’t.

The REAL Airbnb numbers

Most NYC hosts (56%) have never hosted*, but Airbnb uses these never-active accounts to radically skew their numbers.

In reality, just 1.4% of hosts, account for 25% of all Airbnb activity in NYC, and less than 4.5% of hosts account for half (50%) of Airbnb NYC activity. In fact, 72% of all Airbnb NYC activity is from just 9.9% of hosts.

  • 56.1% of all hosts have no reviews (which usually means 0 bookings) 

Of those who are active (have reviews):

  • 15.7% of all active hosts have just 1 review
  • 39.6% of all active hosts have <5 reviews
  • 58.5% of all active hosts have <10 reviews
  • 75.5% of all active hosts have <20 reviews
  • 0.3% of hosts have >200 reviews
  • 2.3% of hosts have >100 reviews
  • 8.5% of hosts have >50 reviews.


  • Just 9.867% of all hosts account for 72.05% of all reviews, or 3345 hosts
  • Just 4.474% of all hosts account for 50.18% of all reviews, or 1517 hosts
  • Just 1.379% of all hosts account for 25.28% of all reviews, or 467 hosts
  • Just 0.350% of all hosts account for 10.13% of all reviews, or 119 hosts.

Fake accounts, human trafficking, terrorism?

The risk of enabling Airbnb to continue is huge. There are hundreds of fake accounts on Airbnb and these are allowed to book rooms, and even host people. Users have no way to know if the person they’ll meet is even real. Airbnb makes it easy for folks to conduct illegal activities with no clear record of who was there. You can be attacked or raped and not even know your attacker’s real name or where they’re from!

As well, because fake IDs are allowed to buy and sell on Airbnb, it’s a ripe target for the worst of society, those who need to launder money. For a few percentage points, Airbnb will move your money from one bank account to another, and that drug or trafficking or terror money can become “legitimate” hotel profits.

This is one major reason hotels are heavily regulated, IDs are required, and there are reporting requirements. AIrbnb makes everyone in NYC unsafe.

Airbnb founders actively organized operating of illegal sublets

In fact, SubletSpy has it in have in writing from a major corporate sublet operator that Airbnb founder Brian Chesky recruited them and conspired with them to operate illegal sublets in NYC. Airbnb is well aware it’s facilitating “illegal activities”:

Airbnb lies, attacks whistleblowers

Chances are you’ll hear a stock response to this from Airbnb’s spin team. There’s a good chance it’ll be dishonest and deceptive.

In fact, Airbnb was recently called out for purging 1000 records while claiming to share their data.

Chances are, too, Airbnb will attack us for speaking up, and lie when they do so. Last time, when our founder disclosed that renting on Airbnb landed him on the “tenant blacklist”, Airbnb lied to PIX11 saying our founder was subject of “a malpractice suit against him”. That’s not just untrue, it’s impossible, as our founder is not a health practitioner. It’s also disgusting, as our founder is one of multiple patients, and the attorney general (after 20+ patients complained), and the doctor’s own wife, who sued that doctor. That doctor was just sent to jail. That’s how low Airbnb is willing to go.

It will not deter us.

Airbnb is dangerous, to hosts, to guests, to cities. It’s arguably a RICO-violating organization.

The fastest way to kill criminal Airbnb activity (most of it) is making it clear hosts will be evicted. SubletSpy may help.

Hosting on Airbnb can Render You Homeless in NYC

You should understand that if you host on Airbnb or any similar site, your landlord can take you to housing court and have you evicted. Win or lose your case, you’ll land on “tenant blacklist” of folks who’ve been to housing court making it near-impossible to get a lease in NYC. And you are unlikely to win, as profiting off an illegal sublet is often an “incurable offense”.

Landlords have a huge incentive to evict in NYC

About 40% of NYC real estate is rent regulated and 10% is rent stabilized, so booting you can give a landlord the ability to raise your rent by thousands, increasing the value of their properties by millions.

Monitor for Illegal Sublets at

Get started at . 
As low as $1/mo/unit. Free bonus month when you sign up now.


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 host gets a review, almost who host all do. Booking calendars confirm this.
Professional operators: hosts running multiple units

About Us

  • 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 and 12gurus: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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