Airbnb Hosts Sue Chicago Over Regulations

A nonprofit group representing current and former Airbnb hosts is suing Chicago in an effort to overturn regulations on home-sharing services that were passed by the City Council this summer.

Keep Chicago Livable filed the lawsuit on Friday, contending that the home-sharing law violates Airbnb hosts’ Constitutional rights to communicate freely on internet, use their property as the see fit, and be safe from illegal search and seizure.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday that the group hopes to overturn the ordinance, which is set to go into effect on Dec. 17, and also seeks an injunction to stop the city from implementing the law until the constitutional question is decided.

“What this case is about is the sanctity of the home. The government’s ability to regulate stops at your front door,” Shorge Kenneth Sato, an attorney representing Keep Chicago Livable, told the Sun-Times. “Chicagoans should not have to ask the government for permission to have sleepovers in their own homes.”

The City Council passed the complex home-sharing law in June by a vote of 43 to 7. Among several new rules, the ordinance levies a 4 percent surcharge on Airbnb and other home-sharing services, requires a $10,000 annual license for each of the web-based companies, and imposes a $60-per-unit fee to raise funds for enforcement of the regulation.

The law also requires Airbnb to file bi-weekly registration reports with city officials and develop a plan to address “quality-of-life concerns” about Chicago units listed on its service, the Sun-Times reported.

Chicago is one of several cities, including New York and San Francisco, that have moved to tighten regulations on Airbnb and similar home-sharing services, citing concerns about discrimination, guest behavior, and the availability of rental housing stock.