Hosting an Airbnb can be a wonderful way to make extra money, and Chicago is one of the most popular places for it. It's not too difficult or time-consuming to maintain an Airbnb, but Chicago does have some regulations that are important to keep in mind.
The City of Chicago created an ordinance in 2016 that places some restrictions, regulations and taxes on short-term rental (STR) properties. Here are its most important aspects:
The host must be the STR property's homeowner
The STR property must be the homeowner's primary residence
The host must provide proof of insurance
The STR property must not be subject to any prohibitions against any form of renting, like those commonly found in condominiums
Other laws exist that allow officials to efficiently check these requirements.
HOW TO START AN AIRBNB
If you decide to host a short-term rental, follow these steps to ensure your process goes as smoothly as possible:
Get proper permissions – Make sure you're not prohibited from rentals by any homeowners associations. Also, if you’re not planning to use Airbnb or VRBO, make sure that the platform you use has been registered with Chicago.
Apply for permits and licenses – In order to host any STR, you must apply to be a Shared Housing Host with the City of Chicago, with an annual fee of $500. Once your application is approved, be sure to include your registration number on all of your online listings.
Consider taxes – Any money you make from hosting an STR adds to your taxable income, and allowing people to rent in your home makes you subject to both hotel accommodation taxes and a homeshare tax surcharge. Consider consulting an accountant or attorney to make sure it's still worth it.
Check your insurance – The ordinance requires homeowner's insurance with at least $1 million coverage. This is more than the insurance Airbnb provides, as well as most homeowner's insurances. Make sure you're properly covered.
Complete safety and business inspections – Ensure that your property is sufficiently safe. Hosts are also required to provide guests with soap, clean towels and linens and sanitized food utensils, as well as a functioning smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. These can all be legally checked by the building commissioner at any time, so make sure to have all these things.
Make rules – To reduce conflict should anything go wrong, create a set of clear rules to be included on your Airbnb page, as well as in the actual property as a reminder. The Ordinance also has regulations on occupancy limits, parking and noise, so don't forget to include these in your rules.
Remember your neighbors – Having a short-term rental property always affects your neighbors. In some cases, you may be required by law to inform them of your decision, but it's always best to go to them before committing. They can bring up any objections they may have so that you can find the best solution. Open communication will decrease future conflicts and complaints.