Thanks to Huntbnb, people who secretly list their apartment on Airbnb have nowhere to hide
Say you're a greedy landlord (I know that might be a stretch to put yourself in such skeezy shoes, but bear with me). You're in the business of squeezing as much money as you can out of tenants, cutting corners whenever possible, whether it's over repairs or bedbug treatments. With this cash-hungry attitude at the heart of your business, you probably wouldn't want your tenants making extra dough renting your property on Airbnb for a weekend here or there while they're out of town, would you?
Now landlords have a new tool to find out if their properties are being listed on Airbnb. Spotted by Fast Company's Chris Gayomali, Huntbnb, lets anybody find Airbnb listings as simply as entering an address.
See, the tricky thing about Airbnb's site is that, while it provides a general location of the property, an exact address won't appear until the user completes the booking. Huntbnb solves this problem by capturing listings through Airbnb's public API that lie within a general radius of an address. It then filters the addresses even more specifically by street name. Even then, the specific address doesn't appear, however photos of the rented room do, which should be enough for a landlord to identify her property.
Granted, Airbnb does let users search for properties by neighborhood, but for landlords who own property all over town, this could be a cumbersome process to keep up. It's much easier to simply copy and paste a list of addresses.
So if a landlord finds out a property is being listed without permission on Airbnb, what recourse is there to take? Well, in New York, if the room is listed for less than thirty days, and the resident is not present during the rental period, then it's illegal -- in fact, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman claims that two-thirds of the state's Airbnb listings fall into this category. With a little coordination between the Attorney General's office and landlords, Huntbnb could potentially be a hugely valuable weapon in the crackdown against illegal listings.
I reached out to both Airbnb and the New York Attorney General's Office but neither have commented yet. I will update the post if they do.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]