Airbnb rentals flourish in South Loop, despite city ordinance

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Despite Chicago's ordinance limiting the use of Airbnb, some South Loop condo owners said their building has been inundated with people using the popular site, particularly over the busy Lollapalooza weekend.

People came from all over the world to Chicago for Lollapalooza and many of them needed a place to stay. Residents said some stayed at a South Loop condo building which is supposed to be off-limits to Airbnb rentals.

"One would be rented for 15 people to share, that sort of thing. And that's kind of offensive to the long-term residents," said Ron Davis, resident.

The roof deck of the building at 9th and Wabash overlooks Grant Park and is a short walk from Lollapalooza, a great location for downtown activities year round - but only for full-time residents. Following the city ordinance, the building's condo board submitted paperwork to ban home-sharing there.

"We are seeing either the city is not enforcing this ordinance, or Airbnb is ignoring it," said Luke Hanley, condo board president.

Residents say home-sharing creates a number of problems, including higher insurance costs.

"That's a concern because our costs go up and our security diminishes, and we don't know who comes in the building," Davis said.

Airbnb said in a statement, "...We are continuing to serve as a partner to the city of Chicago as they work to implement the ordinance."

Residents said it's pretty easy to figure out: advertise them online and see some consequences.

The city's Business Affairs and Consumer Protections office released the following statement:

When the home-share ordinance came into effect in March, Chicago became among the first cities in the nation to regulate short term residential rental units and companies to ensure neighborhood quality of life while satisfying consumer demand. This includes being the first city to establish a pass-through registration system and require a BACP-approved plan from licensed companies to ensure the city has the tools it needs to enforce the ordinance. The City's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection is working closely with companies to ensure they are properly licensed and are in compliance with the City's ordinance as we process registrations for individual units.

BACP is in the process of finalizing the new registration platform, which will determine short term rental eligibility. BACP also continues to hire specialized staff to oversee enforcement, compliance and investigations to ensure that companies and hosts are being held accountable to the safety and registration regulations, and the Department anticipates the registration process to be completed within days.
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