If you have traveled anytime in the last 5 years, within the United States or internationally, chances are you have used some kind of home-share website. Sites like Airbnb and HomeAway offer users a chance to experience a city like a local by renting out a private home or apartment. These sites have become quite successful over the last 5 years.
Success isn’t without its problems, however. Landlords and rental management companies across Chicago started to restrict tenants’ abilities rent out their places on home-sharing websites. An official shared-housing ordinance followed to officially impose stricter rules on these sites. The ordinance, passed last summer, imposes a surcharge “and the rate of four percent of the gross rental or leasing charge”, establishment of license fees, and lists specific definitions of a hotel and a bed-and-breakfast establishment. Registration of shared housing units is also required and there is a limit on number of units that can be rented out in a building.
Usually the companies work with large cities like Chicago to draft the city ordinances, but after months of discussions they did not reach an agreement. HomeAway filed suit the U. S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that ordinance violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. City of Chicago Law Department spokeman, Bill McCaffrey says that the ordinance “enables the city to monitor rental activity and take action against hosts who commit violations.”
This author personally knows many people who have used home-sharing sites when visiting other cities or have hosted travelers themselves. For some, these sites provide a cheaper and more meaningful travel experience than the routine downtown hotel. Rental companies, individual landlords and tenants who rent out their properties can earn extra money and put unused space to good use. Unfortunately, extra taxes and registration fees may deter travelers and hosts from using the home-share platform.
Whether traveling to a stranger’s quaint walk-up or staying right here in town, we at LauraLaw wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!