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Airbnb Defends Hosts Amid Complaints From New York City Councilmembers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Airbnb shared all sorts of data about its users in New York on Tuesday, amid complaints about how the site is used by some hosts.

As WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported, Airbnb executive Chris Lehane said a data dump shows that more than 90 percent of hosts for the company have just one or two listings, not whole buildings full.

"This is a platform for everyday people and not a platform for illegal hostels," Lehane said.

But at the same time, data show more than half of the users as listing their whole apartments, which is technically illegal in New York.

That revelation does not sit well with City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-6th).

She accused Airbnb of having the attitude of, "Hey, New York City – most of these people are only breaking the law a little bit, so why don't you just let them break the law a little bit."

Airbnb said it has shown in other cities that it is willing to talk about regulations

"We should be able to find a path forward to work with these folks," Lehane said.

But Rosenthal and other City Council members said the company must start following the existing law first.

Legislation introduced in October aims to rein in landlords who evict tenants in favor of Airbnb renters.

The current fine for renting out an apartment for fewer than 30 days without an owner present is $1,600. The proposal by City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal (D-6th) would increase that penalty to between $10,000 and $50,000, WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola reported in October.

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