Property Managers should keep an eye on Airbnb laws
As local and state politicians scramble to understand the impact, opportunity and voter stance on home-sharing, there is the concept of drawing up laws to specifically keep programs like Airbnb and VRBO out of the suburbs. One such battle is currently occurring in Chicago where mayor Rahm Emanuel is hitting the issue head-on. Emanuel is attempting to collect a tax on anything booked through Airbnb in and around the city. At first blush, this may not seem to affect property managers at all (unless they are currently using Airbnb in the area) since this is simply an attempt to level the playing field between home-sharing sites and the heavily taxed hotel chains.
The reason property managers need to beware is not the concept behind the legislation but more the collateral damage that is going on with it. For example, the city of Chicago is also planning an “ineligible list” of properties that are prohibited from being used as rentals. Notice the big difference between the goal of the laws and that phrasing? They have dropped the “home-sharing” or “vacation rental” moniker in favor of the much more vague, “rentals.” So while the target is home-sharing and vacation rentals, the laws and ordinances are starting to spill over into all rentals.
For example, when one Chicago politician specifically called out “homes in single-family zoned areas,” it should raise the eyebrows of local property managers. Larger property managers in the area should make sure that they do not find themselves on the wrong side of a new law that was targeting a different segment of the industry.
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