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Airbnb Hosts Accuse NYC Of Colluding With Opposition Group To Spy On Rental Properties

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Airbnb hosts in New York City claim the city is colluding with an opposition group to spy on their properties.

The National Action Network alleges the group Share Better is sending undercover renters to scope out the spaces and report any violations to the city.

"Our homes are under attack. We stand up, we fight back!" the group chanted during a rally Wednesday at City Hall. 

"After having to evict three professional deadbeat tenants, who together still owe me in access of $30,000 in uncollectable judgements, I began sharing my home," host Joy Williams, of Harlem, said.

"I turned to my home – I have a two-family home in Queens – and I put it on the Airbnb platform so I can earn extra income and take care of my medical expenses," host Lee Thomas, who suffers from cancer, said.

Alexander Schnell, with New York City's Office of Special Enforcement, said the city "has no operational relationship with Share Better." He told 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa there are no undercover operations.

"Home-sharing is perfectly legal in NYC when hosts follow the laws. The Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement is focused on taking action against owners that take housing off the market, create dangerous conditions or adversely affect the livability of a neighborhood or building," the office said in a statement. "The City has repeatedly asked Airbnb, to share data to help us enforce the law which they have refused to do."

Schnell also said the city investigates any tips it receives, including those provided by Share Better.

New York State has some of the nation's toughest restrictions on Airbnb. Last October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a measure authorizing fines of up to $1,000 for many short-term rentals. The measure applies to rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not present.

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