Stay in a new Streeterville high-rise with Airbnb

by Joe Zekas on 6/23/14

Airbnb has been around long enough, been the conduit for enough rentals, and refined its policies and checks often enough that you might not have any qualms about signing up for a short-term rental through Airbnb. You should be wary.

I recently saw listings for short-term rentals through Airbnb at 500 Lake Shore Drive and Optima Center, two new rental high-rises in Streeterville. I reached out to both buildings to confirm my understanding that, under no circumstances, would they allow these rentals if they were aware of them.

A representative of 500 Lake Shore Drive responded promptly, via email: “We absolutely do not allow Airbnb.” The listing I saw at 500 LSD was removed when I checked on it a day later.

I haven’t heard back yet from Optima Center, but expect the answer to be the same.

Almost all of the Airbnb listings I scanned in high-rise apartment buildings listed them as condos, including the one for Optima Center. Condos rented by the owner can qualify for licensing under the Chicago vacation rental ordinance (pdf). A renter cannot be licensed under the ordinance.

It’s hard to believe that the people renting their units through Airbnb are unaware that they’re not allowed to do that under the terms of their lease. The fact that they describe their apartment as a condo makes it even more likely that they know that they’re putting their prospective guests at risk of a ruined stay and simply aren’t burdened by a conscience.

If you’re looking to stay at an Airbnb rental you should verify with the apartment or condo management that the rental is allowed before booking the rental. If you live in an apartment building and see Airbnb listings in your building, you should notify management. In either case, you don’t want to run the risk of becoming yet another Airbnb horror story.

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