Airbnb hosts in Chicago must register with city starting Friday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The City of Chicago has started implementing an ordinance Friday that requires Airbnb hosts to register with the city before renting out their homes or spare bedrooms. The ordinance passed in June of 2016.

A record-breaking 54 million tourists visited Chicago last year and many of them used Airbnb to rent out apartments or stay in people's spare bedrooms. Friday, the City of Chicago cracked down on which properties are allowed to be on the website.

"These new regulations are a step in the right direction, but even under these revised rules anyone can still turn their house into a hotel. Neighbors who are forced to live next to these rentals without any say about who is coming in or out of their neighborhood deserve better," said Alderman Marty Quinn, who banned short term rentals in multiple precincts in the 13th Ward.

Karen Jacobson uses Airbnb to rent out the third floor of her Buena Park home for $125 per night. Jacobson said she submitted her registration paperwork in March and is still waiting to hear back from the city to find out if she has been approved or denied.

"When I speak to other hosts, we are all wondering what is going on," said Jacobson.

Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection for the City of Chicago Rosa Escareno said people will start getting registration numbers Friday. The city is expected to issue thousands of approval notices to home owners renting out their property with Airbnb.

If hosts get denied, it could be for a number of different reasons, including zoning laws, a building already exceeding the maximum number of temporary rentals allowed, or if a condo association has deemed a building off limits.

During Lollapalooza, a building in Grant Park was inundated with music fans renting with Airbnb despite the condo association submitting paperwork to the city banning home sharing.

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

Starting Friday, hosts denied by the city have a right to appeal that decision, but if they receive a final denial and continue trying to rent out their home, fines can range from $1,500 to $3,000 per day.

Airbnb said hosts that do not register with the City of Chicago will be taken off the website.

Airbnb released the following statement Friday:

"Airbnb offers regular Chicagoans a way to share their homes with visitors from around the world and supplement their income in the process. We have been working closely with the City to develop Chicago's first-of-its-kind registration system, and we are proud to be the only short-term rental platform legally licensed in Chicago."
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