Bob O | Chicago Reader

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Re: “Can Chicago truly regulate Airbnb?

"It is through these complaints that BACP maximizes its capacity to actively investigate websites positioning themselves as vacation rental sites," Stambaugh said in an e-mail. "We have been successful in ensuring compliance with the ordinance."

Successful? There are now 4,500 rentals and 4,300 of them are illegal. There were fewer than 230 rentals when the law regulating them was enacted.

"We have been successful in ensuring compliance with the ordinance."

This is the definition of government incompetence and laziness. It's either that or they are looking the other way when it comes to enforcing the law.

So why have so few rental homes been licensed in the past four years? Mika Stambaugh, a spokesman for the BACP, said enforcement is primarily a complaint-driven process and that the agency addresses every complaint it receives.

It is also because Airbnb hides the identities of the rental operators and refuses to release owner or rental records, although they have both. Why should they follow the law, the city has no way of finding them.

A subpoena would fix that.

What about the years of ignoring the law and evading taxes for these thousands of illegal hotels? Absolutely no one is talking about that. The rest of us would face paying interest and penalties and face possible fraud charges for filing false returns.

As we are about to face a huge property tax increase and more red light cameras to raise money, this is an insult to law abiding tax paying business owners and citizens, and I am both.

2 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Bob O on 10/28/2015 at 12:29 AM

Re: “What happens now that Chicago is taxing the 'share' economy?

she'd rather not be named because of a lingering fear of being caught in a gray area

It's not gray, it's black and white. To operate a vacation rental, you must obtain a business license, be inspected for safety, and get business liability insurance, as your homeowners won't cover injuries in a business. That's what you are running. To rent a room in your house, you need a bed and breakfast license, which I think they should work with people on. These are people that need extra income and it is not removing rental housing from permanent residents and driving up rent. Full dwelling vacation rentals do. These are landlords and large scale rental companies breaking the law and turning what should be apartments for us into illegal hotels.

And the illegal rental owner?

I'm fine if a cash-strapped city like Chicago sees a way to make money off the money I'm making—as long as they don't make it so inconvenient or unattractive for me that I'd rather not do it."


Is this just denial, or arrogance. We know we're breaking the law, but don't try to make us follow the rules and pay the lodging taxes everyone else does. Airbnb operators pay 1/4 of the required taxes. Please don't make it inconvenient?

If the full hotel tax was levied, it might start eating into customer savings—which is the reason many people use the service to begin with.

Of course they like it. I could open a bar in my basement and charge less too. All I have to do is ignore the law and pay no taxes, which is what these rentals did for 5 years before the city demanded taxes.

What about the years of ignoring the law? Absolutely no one is talking about that. It is an insult to law abiding tax paying businesses and citizens, and I am both.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Bob O on 10/28/2015 at 12:17 AM

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