CHICAGO (CBS) — Crazy parties, destruction, and violence – that is what is behind the City of Chicago’s new ban on one-night rentals.
The ban was applied to Airbnb and other short-term property hosts with a unanimous City Council vote on Wednesday. CBS 2’s Tara Molina on Wednesday night explained what it means for those who are looking to rent.
People living in one section of the Old Town neighborhood know what it’s like to live next to a problem rental property. From wild parties to property damage, they call brand new rules a step in the right direction.
Diane Fitzgerald said when it comes to what her neighborhood calls the “party rental” spot on her block, she has seen it all – traffic jams at 2 a.m. and hundreds of people coming in and out.
“There was a bachelor party and they were having a golden arches contest,” Fitzgerald said. “Off of there onto our roof. They were peeing on our roof.”
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey looked into some of the parties that were held in an Old Town rental last year. On Feb. 23, 2019, between 1:45 a.m. and 2 a.m., four police officers came to break up a party at an Old Town rental. Within 15 minutes, dozens of people streamed out.
But it was not an isolated incident. Night after night, month after month, cameras captured crowds waiting at the door to pay an entrance fee. Police would show up, but then, another renter would host another party.
But it is not just noise, property damage, and massive crowds that led up to the City Council’s vote to ban one-night rentals in Chicago. There have also been violence, Shootings, and gang activity across the area – all at one-night rentals.
Most recently in Wicker Park, a man was shot at an Airbnb on Milwaukee Avenue in August.
We’ve tracked the issues at CBS 2 for months. But Fitzgerald said the fight leading up to this ban started years ago.
She calls the new rules a step in the right direction.
“That will get rid of the people, the young people in particular, that are looking for a cheap place to host a party,” Fitzgerald said.
The new city rules apply to all short-term rental properties, like AirBnb and HomeAway. But they create more than a one-night ban.
“It’s a safety concern,” Fitzgerald said.
Now people applying to host short-term rentals have to submit their applications directly to the city – not just a site like Airbnb – thus giving the city the ability to immediately revoke a permit.
And there a big fines at stake. Any host who uses their space to allow for parties, drug trafficking, gang activity, or prostitution will face fines up to $10,000.
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), whose ward includes the area in Old Town where the infamous parties were happening, said in a statement that the ordinance is long overdue.
“This ordinance is a needed change; for too long, communities have suffered from out of control ‘party houses,’ in my ward and throughout the city,” Smith said in the statement. “Now Chicago residents who want to restrict short term rentals in their community will be able to petition to keep them out of their precinct.”
But Airbnb said it believes the ban will interfere with legitimate uses of its rentals such as business travel.
“While we’re supportive of the aspects of the ordinance that modernize Chicago’s short-term rental law, the one-night ban is a blunt instrument that blocks legitimate reservations, such as business travel to Chicago – hurting the eventual return of the tourism economy, tax revenue and income for responsible Airbnb hosts,” Airbnb senior policy director Alex Dagg said in a statement. “We will continue to work with Mayor Lightfoot and remain devoted to partnering with the City of Chicago.”
Airbnb said it has taken a number of steps to limit parties in its rentals – including a global ban on all parties and events at Airbnb listings. The company also said it had launched a new initiative forbidding some U.S. guests under the age of 25 from booking entire home listings in their local areas unless they already have a history of positive reviews.
Airbnb also said it also will not allow hosts to authorize parties or events in regions where current public health requirements prohibit them, and said it has temporarily removed the “parties and events allowed” rule from the House Rules of any Chicago listings that used to allow parties.