Can I Use My Apartment as an Airbnb in Chicago?
Airbnbing in Chicago got a little more difficult in July 2016 and February 2017 when the City of Chicago passed new rules for home sharing. The city requires hosts to register with the city before listing and renting their property on Airbnb. Luckily, Airbnb makes it easy by allowing you to apply for a registration number directly from their website or app. This article will answer some of the most important questions you may have regarding listing your Chicago apartment on Airbnb.
Who Must Complete a City Registration for Airbnb?
Anybody who is listing a property for short-term rent on a platform like Airbnb must register with the city first. Only those who already have a valid shared housing unit registration, vacation rental license, or bed and breakfast license do not need to register.
If you have Chicago apartment listings on Airbnb, each unique address needs to be registered. Individual listings within the same address do not need separate registrations. For example, if you list multiple private rooms at the same address, only one registration number is required.
For a new Chicago apartment listing on Airbnb, you will have to enter some basic information as part of the registration process. Airbnb will submit the information to the city of Chicago on your behalf. Then, they will apply for a registration number when you publish your listing. The specific information needed will be listed below.
The best part about listing your Chicago apartment on Airbnb is that when you do your city registration through Airbnb, there is no cost.
What is a Short-Term Rental?
The shared housing ordinance refers to “short-term residential rentals.” The three categories of short-term rentals in Chicago are: shared housing units, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals.
Shared Housing Unit
These must be registered through an approved online platform like Airbnb before they can be rented online. Hosts must post the property’s city registration number on the Airbnb listing. For most people who are listing their home or a portion of their home, registering as a shared housing unit is the quickest and easiest way to comply with the ordinance. However, there are some limitations to what type of property can be registered.
Vacation rentals will need a license from the city before they can be rented on a platform like Airbnb. Again, the host must post the property’s license number on the listing. Most people who choose to list as a vacation rental are listing a single-family home that is not their primary residence.
Bed and Breakfast
Like the other two options, bed and breakfasts also need a license from the city to be rented on a platform like Airbnb. They also must post the property’s license number on the listing. If you plan to serve food or have other specialized activities requiring a license, you should choose the bed and breakfast option.
What Information Will the City Need From Me?
According to the shared housing ordinance, certain information must be shared with the city of Chicago when you register. This includes:
- The host’s name. This must be the primary resident of the property, not a co-host or business.
- The unit’s address.
- Contact information. This can be either the host or a local contact person like a co-host. This will include an email address and phone number.
- What kind of listing it is. This means choosing whether it is a single family home, a unit in a multi-unit building, or whether the listing will make the entire unit available for rent or only a portion of it available.
- Whether the unit is the host’s primary residence.
Will My Landlord Find Out I Registered with Airbnb?
Under most circumstances, your landlord or HOA will not be notified that you registered with Airbnb. However, the shared housing ordinance does ban listing short-term rentals in buildings that are registered on the Prohibited Buildings List. There are over 90,000 Chicago apartment and condo units on the Prohibited Buildings List. This is about 7.6% of all housing units in Chicago. If your listing is on that list, your application may be rejected and you will need to remove your listing from Airbnb. If you continue listing your property on the Prohibited Buildings List, the city may notify your landlord or HOA.
You are able to list your property on the Airbnb website before your registration gets approved. You can continue to list and book your property once you submit your application for registration and are waiting to hear back from the city. However, while you are waiting for a registration number or more information, the city requires you to indicate “registration pending” in your listing description. Luckily, Airbnb will handle that part for you.
What to do if Your Airbnb Registration is Rejected
If your property is rejected during registration, the city will notify you. They will share three pieces of information with you. The first is the reason or reasons your property was rejected. The second is whether the decision is able to be reversed through further action. The final piece of information they will share is what the process will be for appealing the city’s decision, if you would choose to do it. If you get rejected but continue hosting your property, you may be subject to fines and other penalties. You must appeal the decision to be able to continue Airbnbing in Chicago. Sometimes, Airbnb may even remove your listing.
On the chance that your registration got denied after you received bookings, you can complete those. Any bookings you got while your application was pending can be completed. You will not be able to accept future bookings until your registration status is resolved.
What is the Penalty for Violating the Shared Housing Ordinance?
To continue Airbnbing in Chicago, your registration needs to be renewed annually. This renewal can also be done directly through Airbnb. Anybody who violates the shared housing ordinance, or any part of it, could be subject to penalties. These may include losing their registration or license, monetary fines, and potential follow-up by the city.