Judge orders city to hold off on implementing new Airbnb rules

A judge has ordered the city of Chicago to hold off on implementing new restrictions on Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms after a group of homeowners sued the city last month.

The lawsuit targeted the city’s new home-sharing rules, which place restrictions on homeowners renting their living spaces out on Airbnb, a platform that has become a thorn in the hotel industry’s side.

The new regulations call for an extra tax on home-sharing hosts, a limit on the number of units in buildings that can be rented out on the platforms and a requirement that hosts maintain records on guests, among other rules.

Keep Chicago Livable, a nonprofit made up of homeowners who oppose Chicago’s regulations, filed the suit Nov. 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, saying “this new law is designed as a particularly cruel trap for the unwary.”

The new rules were scheduled to go fully into effect Dec. 17, but Judge Sara Ellis ruled Monday to push that date back until Feb. 28. Some provisions of the new regulations were exempted from the ruling.

Benjamin Thomas Wolf, president of Keep Chicago Livable and a plaintiff in the case, told the Tribune in November that he quit renting out his Bucktown neighborhood condo in light of the regulations.

“I abide by the rules and my life has been about enforcing the law, and now to break the law, I’m just not prepared to do that,” said Wolf, who said he has worked for the FBI. “It’s important for us to challenge this.”

Airbnb was not involved in the lawsuit.

There are 6,400 Airbnb hosts in Chicago, the San Francisco-based company said in November. About 371,000 guests stayed in the city between Nov. 1, 2015, and Nov. 1, 2016.

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