City, Airbnb hosts agree to delay short-term housing ordinance

Attorneys for the City of Chicago and Keep Chicago Livable, a nonprofit formed by current and former Airbnb hosts, have agreed to delay the full implementation of the city’s home-sharing ordinance until next year as the two sides work to find common ground with respect to the privacy of hosts and their guests.

The ordinance was scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 19, though a judge has now put that off until Feb. 28, 2017, according to a recent court filing.

Keep Chicago Livable filed a federal lawsuit last month that sought to block the approved ordinance, saying constitutional rights to “communicate freely and anonymously on the internet,” use your own property, be guaranteed due process and protections against illegal search and seizure were under threat.

Some provisions of the ordinance concerning licensing fees, renewals and the city’s broadening definition of the term “vacation rental” are still set to go into effect as of Dec. 19, the court filing stated.

“The law requires Airbnb to share with the government all information about its users in Chicago without a warrant, consent, or proof of any crime,” Shorge Kenneth Sato, an attorney representing Keep Chicago Livable, previously said.

“Information about who they have as guests, where they live, how much they paid, how long they stayed. That’s illegal. Their privacy is violated. All that information is private. Government has no business knowing that,” Sato added.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said the company respects the decision and will “remain ready to move forward with our obligations under the ordinance when the stay is lifted.”

“We believe in proactively working with cities towards commonsense home sharing rules that economically empower our hosts while protecting quality of life in neighborhoods,” Breit said.

The City Council voted 43-7 in favor of the ordinance over the summer after months of debate on how to balance the interests of Airbnb hosts, happy to earn extra money by booking spare rooms, with the concerns of neighbors fearful of rowdy renters.

The ordinance allows residents of individual voting precincts to ban Airbnb and its competitors from residential neighborhoods, using a petition process similar to the one used to vote precincts dry.

Contributing: Fran Spielman