Attorney believes home-sharing ordinance is likely unconstitutional
The city of Chicago’s new ordinance that seeks to crack down on home-sharing situations, such as those found on Airbnb, has confounded many, including those in the legal field.
“I personally think the new law is misguided overkill that is likely unconstitutional,” attorney for Keeping Chicago Livable, Shorge Sato said. “The new law is very skewed against private home sharing, especially home sharing on the Internet.”
The nearly 60-page ordinance was issued by the city in June and it aims to regulate the city’s home-sharing hosts. Some of the changes the city has imposed include a 4 percent tax on hosts, which the document stated would be used to “fund supportive services and housing for the chronically homeless.”
However, the Illinois Watchdog organization wrote that the money was not earmarked.
In addition, hosts will now be required to have the proper insurance for the rental unit and keep a record of all guests.
The city has also demanded that hosts provide guests with soaps and clean linens, individual bath cloths, towels and clean linen. Hosts will also be expected to provide sanitized utensils and to “dispose of all food, beverages and alcohol left by the previous guests.”
Home-sharing hosts have also been restricted to rental times. Previously it was illegal to rent for less than 24 hours, however the city has changed that to 10 hours.
The ordinance also requires any would-be hosts to sign a document that confirms they have read it, understand it and will comply with it.
The law does not actually require homeowners or renters to register or license,” Keeping Chicago Livable has posted on its website. “It simply creates a $3,000 per day penalty based on a presumption that if you do not include a ‘license number’ or ‘registration number’ in your listing, you are operating illegally.”
Any companies operating a listing service in the city, such as Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO, will be required to pay a license fee of $10,000. Anyone caught operating without a license can now be fined $2,500.
The Watchdog organization also posted on its website that the “sneaky” part of the law was that “registration as a ‘shared housing unit’ comes with surprising and extremely intrusive and burdensome regulations that fundamentally transform what it means for you to own or possess your own home.”
According to their website the home becomes a “public accommodation” and hosts will not be allowed to discriminate against anyone who wants to stay there.
Surprisingly Chicago saw a 91 percent increase in guests using Airbnb over the last year. The city has about 5,000 hosts who make an average of $4,300, according to Streetwise media.
The home-sharing ordinance passed through council with a vote of 43-7. The Illinois Watchdog speculated in a post on its website that many of the aldermen who voted in favor of the ordinance had accepted money from hotel and lodging groups for their political campaigns.
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