Are Chicago Home Share Laws Working?

 

Chicagoans and aldermen are sounding off about new city regulations on homesharing designed to keep residents safe that some say aren’t doing enough.

Olivia Vasquez walked us through her Bucktown condo. She takes pride in making it nice.

But Vasquez says her home started feeling more like a motel after one of her neighbors started renting out through Airbnb.

The two condos share an entrance to the 5-unit building.

“But now you’ve invited strangers into our space,” Vasquez said.

The Airbnb in Vasquez’s building appears to be properly registered in the city. But still, she says customers have tried to open her door and that they’ve sat on her deck. They even approached her, asking if she was the building concierge.

She feels unsafe.

“A lot of times I’m here in this building by myself. So it puts me on a complete, almost nervous panic state a lot,” Vasquez said.

And she’s trying to figure out if she has any rights – or recourse.

“I know that Chicago has implemented a lot of different new processes in regards to Airbnb,” Vasquez said.

And she’s right. Last August, Chicago started requiring all homeshare listings in the city to be registered online.

But why are only Airbnb’s registered and how does that protect consumers? FOX 32 took those questions straight to the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

“We’re definitely taking baby steps in terms of just trying to fully grasp the issues,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno.

Escareno admits the new rule isn’t straight forward.

“There was so much input given, that it just made this ordinance very complicated. And it’s not easy to understand,” Escareno said.

She says her agency has received 124 complaints and issued about a dozen citations in just the first few months.

And they are sending investigators to check out any reports of problems with homeshare sites like Airbnb.

“Call us, ask us if we can conduct an investigation, and we can tell you whether that activity is or is not legal,” she said.

But is the new “registration rule” doing enough?

Alderman Brendan Reilly represents Chicago’s 42nd ward. He says his constituents are continuing to complain, with property damage, noise and safety concerns.

“The current law isn’t working, and if it isn’t working, it’s our job as legislators to fix it,” Reilly said.

Olivia’s hoping that fix comes quick before trouble checks in.

“When somebody else comes in, and makes my home a hotel, and brings potential hazards, I think we have a right to say, hey, we should have some sort of safeguards,” Vasquez said.

The city also says it’s working with companies besides Airbnb to include all homeshare companies operating within Chicago.

 

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