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Image credit: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo

Chicago allows Airbnb to operate under restrictions

Short-term rentals are back, but not everyone's happy.
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Mark Brouwer and his two-apartment Chicago home he offers on Airbnb. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo

Alternate housing fans touring the Windy City, rejoice. Chicago's city council passed two measures yesterday to allow short-term rentals, permitting users to post their spaces on Airbnb so long as they play by new rules. Only so many living areas can be listed at one time in multi-unit residences, so get ready to ask your neighbors who's scheduled to rent out their apartment on which days.

The restrictions are an attempt to give Chicago citizens a greater say in how residences are used by requiring short-term renters to register every listed unit with the city. The exact limits they have to abide by depend on the size of the building. Those with five units or less can only list one at a time, while larger complexes can only list six apartments or 35 percent of the total, whichever is less. Areas with single-family homes can petition to ban short-term rentals outright in their area or restrict it to the "primary residences" of the listed properties. Naturally, that petition can be petitioned.

Each company like Airbnb will have to pay fees to the city including a $10,000 annual license to operate, along with a $60 charge for each Chicago address listed on sites. The city will also take a 4 percent tax on every rental which goes to homeless services. The measure's proponents, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, maintain that the incoming funds will make up for the inconvenience, but that will all depend on how well they follow up with regulation.

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