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Single-Night Airbnb Rentals Would Be Banned Under Proposed City Crackdown

Short-term rental hosts could also be fined $10,000 for allowing parties under a proposed ordinance set to be considered Tuesday.

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CITY HALL — Travelers would no longer be able to book single-night stays at home-sharing rentals and hosts could be fined $10,000 for throwing parties under an ordinance set for consideration Tuesday meant to crack down on the city’s short-term rental industry.

The prohibition on multiple bookings within a 48-hour period is one of dozens of ways the ordinance would tweak to the city’s existing home-sharing ordinance, which the council passed in June 2016. Other changes would centralize authority over vacation rentals within the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), giving city licensing officials more power to fine home-sharing scofflaws or revoke their licenses.

The proposal is set for consideration during a 10 a.m. meeting of the council’s Committee on License and Consumer Protection on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), the revisions are the product of a “working group” Lightfoot convened earlier this year to “bring much-needed transparency, enforcement authority and regulatory change” to the city’s short-term rental rules, according to a press release sent by the mayor’s office when the ordinance was introduced last month.

Multiple aldermen joined BACP Comm. Rose Escareño during a subject matter hearing in March to call for updates to the city’s home-sharing rules. Escareño said current rules allow rentals to be listed before the city approves them, allowing some unsanctioned units to remain listed for months while users “prolong the process” with “frivolous appeals,” Escareño said at the time.

Related: Toughen Chicago’s home-sharing regulations, commissioner tells aldermen

Lightfoot’s proposal closes this loophole by preventing hosts from listing their units while their applications are still pending. It also requires hosts to register through an application portal maintained by BACP officials, who must then assign a “registration number” to each host so it can be added to a database kept by the department.

The tracking regime will “improve the City’s ability to ensure regulations are being met and take enforcement [actions] when necessary against problem locations,” according to Lightfoot’s July press release.

The ordinance also includes the following changes:

  • A fine between $5,000 and $10,000 for hosts who are found to be using their space for “egregious conditions” like drug trafficking, prostitution, “gang-related activity” or “using or allowing the use of a shared housing unit for a party.”
  • A tiered license fee for home-sharing intermediary platforms, stepping down the existing $10,000 registration fee to $7,500 for platforms that list between 500 and 999 units and $5,000 for those that list fewer than 500 units. It also hikes recurring annual license fees from $60 to $125 per unit.
  • Prohibiting more than two people from staying in any single guest room, excluding children under 18.
  • Adding a definition of “excessive loud noise,” describing it in part as “any sound that caused vibration…that is felt or experienced on or in any neighboring property” between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
  • Allowing city licensing officials to call in hosts for a “hearing” to consider suspending or revoking their license after they commit two violations over a 12-month period, instead of three violations, as is written in the existing ordinance.

Several sections of the ordinance would take effect 10 days after its passage, including the single-day rental prohibition, the ban on parties and “excessive loud noise” and the provision lowering the number of violations that trigger a hearing from three to two.

The rest of the ordinance would take effect on April 1, 2021.

AirBnB policy adviser Rachel DeLevie-Orey is scheduled to testify on the ordinance during Tuesday’s hearing, according to the company.

“We appreciate Mayor Lightfoot’s partnership as we work to collectively simplify and modernize short-term rental rules that work for the City and our host community,” AirBnB spokesperson Alex Dagg wrote in a statement to The Daily Line on Monday.

The committee is also scheduled to consider the following items during its meeting on Tuesday:

O2020-3985 — A proposal by Lightfoot requiring employers to post “information about human trafficking and resources to help combat it” alongside posted information about minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements. The ordinance also removes references to gender from the city’s rules on what body parts may be displayed during live performances.

O2020-3968 and O2020-3966 — Prohibitions on home-sharing rentals in two precincts in the 23rd Ward.

O2020-3634 — Lifting a liquor sale moratorium on Cermak Road between Damen Avenue and Leavitt Street in the 25th Ward.

O2020-3802 — Lifting a liquor sale moratorium on Pulaski Road between Adams Street and Van Buren Street.

O2020-3635 — Lifting a liquor sale moratorium on Cicero Avenue between School Street and Addison Street in the 31st Ward.

O2020-3948 — Lifting a liquor sale moratorium on Fullerton Avenue between Monticello Avenue and Kimball Avenue in the 35th Ward.