The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

City Council Passes New, Fairly Chill Airbnb Regulations, And Airbnb Likes Them

By Mae Rice in News on Jun 22, 2016 8:31PM


It's official: Airbnb rentals will face new regulations in Chicago. On Wednesday, City Council approved a long-discussed regulatory ordinance for home-sharing through Airbnb and its ilk. It sounds like a potential nightmare for Airbnb, and they've actively protested this ordinance before—but today, Airbnb is jazzed.

“We’re excited to see Chicago join the ranks of leading global cities that have worked to protect the right of everyday people to share their homes to make some extra money," said Will Burns, Airbnb's Senior Advisor and Midwest Director of Policy, in a statement. "We are particularly excited that, under the leadership of the mayor and aldermen, the tax revenue generated from our community will go to helping to fund the City's homelessness program."

This change of tune can be attributed, in part, to a change in ordinance. Under the ordinance passed Wednesday, there's no cap on how many nights per year hosts can rent out their homes, according to Airbnb. Hosts just need to pay the city $60—money that will be used to enforce this ordinance, the Tribune reports—and register with the city, according to Airbnb. (Under a previous version of the ordinance, homes rented out more than 90 days a year would have had to be registered as commercial properties, as we noted in May.)

As Burns said, the ordinance also applies a 4 percent tax applied to homesharing transactions, which will help fund services for homeless Chicagoans.

The ordinance is most restrictive about how widespread Airbnb rentals can be in a given building. In buildings of five or fewer unit, only one unit can be rented out at a time; in larger buildings, either six or 25 percent of units can be rented out through Airbnb—whichever comes first. If a precinct deems Airbnb a particular problem, residents can also move to ban it from their precincts altogether, but doing so will be a fairly complicated process.

Airbnb has lobbied heavily to shape the ordinance into its current, friendly state, the Tribune reports. Some of that lobbying has been public facing: the Internet Association, a group Airbnb is a member of, released video ads against these regulations earlier this month. Just two days ago, Ashton Kutcher (an Airbnb investor) took to Facebook to say the regulatory ordinance would "negatively impact" Airbnb hosts.