Airbnb investment only property

5 Replies

Hi everyone!

I'm interested in buying an Airbnb investment property looking for some advice on how to navigate through the new Airbnb laws in Chicago.

If I were to buy an investment only 2 flat it seems like I we'll have to do some additional petitioning before I get registered. If I did occupy this two flat I could rent out one unit. However since I will not be living there it sounds like I'll have to get some additional approvals from my neighbors and aldermen before Chicago will provide me with a registration number.

Does anyone have any advice on how to navigate through these laws? Maybe I'm not reading the laws properly?

Hi @Natalia Wang - I'd be happy to discuss how our other clients are navigating this process.  I am not an attorney, so I will not be able to assist in interpreting the laws, rather give you a "here's what we're seeing" in the field. Please let me know if I can assist further.

Ashley Carter, Real Estate Agent in IL (#471.002063)
773-551-8808
Originally posted by @Natalia Wang :

Hi everyone!

I'm interested in buying an Airbnb investment property looking for some advice on how to navigate through the new Airbnb laws in Chicago.

If I were to buy an investment only 2 flat it seems like I we'll have to do some additional petitioning before I get registered. If I did occupy this two flat I could rent out one unit. However since I will not be living there it sounds like I'll have to get some additional approvals from my neighbors and aldermen before Chicago will provide me with a registration number.

Does anyone have any advice on how to navigate through these laws? Maybe I'm not reading the laws properly?

Hi Natalia,

The additional petitioning is a commissioner's adjustment. According to the ordinance, this is very vague. You fill out a "one-pager" to the commissioner and state your case. Knowing the alderman never hurts :)

It is all contingent on what the city decides. They are still trying to figure out the "airbnb thing" and how to best regulate it. I've heard that it is taking up to 6 weeks for the city to approve/decline the application presented via the Airbnb website. That's crazy! 

I am meeting with the policy adviser for Airbnb in Chicago soon so I will have a better answer for you, but PM me if you have further questions. When looking to purchase your 2-flat, getting city approval is a risk you have to consider in your analysis. 

All the best! -Jeremy

Having an Airbnb only property in Chicago is going to be more difficult to get approved than renting out a spare room. The reason is as more people do short-term rentals, the supply of affordable housing for primary residency decreases.

@Natalia Wang , I was at a zoning meeting recently and between zoning and variances hearings, there was a lady that owned a property in Lincoln Park with a coach house and she wanted to get it approved for AIRBNB. I noticed that all she did was to produce an application, stated her case in front of the Zoning Board and got the approval on the spot with no questions asked. I mean nobody on the board asked her any question, neither anyone in the room asked any explanations!

Based on that the system seems to be simple. Of course, you will need to do a little bit more research as maybe this owner had to jump through some hoops before that meeting that I was present to.

Here is the info that airbnb has on how to get the property approved for City requirements.

https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/861/chicago--i...

Personally, I have an AIRBNB in the suburbs so no more issues with the City of Chicago.

Lumi Ispas, Real Estate Agent in IL (#475.113981)
773-392-2906

I've seen a number of people try to play by the rules and it's tough, however the way the ordinance is written and how it's enforced are entirely different matters. I've seen operators convert a SFH into a 20+ bedroom airbnb hotel with queen bunk beds sleeping up to 80 people. This involved splitting up rooms, building bedrooms in the kitchen/living room, etc (one review for one of these properties stated that they light from the kitchen coming into his bedroom 'window' was bothersome).

This person apparently got one property address registered with a BACP license #, then copy/pasted that license into all his other slumlordy airBNB's. A simple google search of his license number showed it being used at 3 different addresses. He's still in business over half a year later if that tells you anything about enforcement. 

Bottom line is the city gets $$$ for each booking, so unless neighbors complain or someone tries to be correct about it, they are happy to keep their mouths shut to their voters and their pockets open to the violators. 


Obviously if you are the type to do this, I'd suggest having your backup plans in place and put all the properties into a land trust with a beneficiary operator at arms reach. Talk to an attorney about that one.

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