BACP Launches New Online Portal For Shared Housing Registrations
New portal will fully implement Reform Ordinance and bring much-needed efficiency, transparency and oversight to Chicago’s home-sharing industry
Isaac Reichman 312-744-2523 Isaac.firstname.lastname@example.org
CHICAGO – The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) today launched a new online portal to process shared housing registrations. The launch of this portal will allow BACP to implement all aspects of Chicago’s Shared Housing Reform Ordinance, which is fully effective as of today, June 1, 2021. Through this new system, shared housing hosts will for the first time be required to submit registration applications directly to BACP and receive approval before listing. This online portal will increase efficiency and bring much-needed transparency and oversight to Chicago’s home-sharing regulations.
“Over the last four years, we have worked tirelessly to oversee the evolving shared housing industry within the limits of the previous regulations,” said BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareño. “This reform ordinance and the new portal will allow us to modernize the process, improve host registration data and enhance the City’s ability to hold problem actors accountable while preserving the innovation that is critical to this industry.”
In September 2020, Chicago’s City Council passed Mayor Lightfoot’s comprehensive and innovative Shared Housing Reform Ordinance to increase safety and accountability within the Shared Housing industry. This groundbreaking legislation was passed unanimously by City Council and is the product of a Working Group created by Mayor Lightfoot and led by BACP and Alderman Emma Mitts, Chairman of the Committee on License and Consumer Protection. Portions of this ordinance, including a ban on single-night rentals and provisions that granted increased enforcement authority to BACP, came into effect last fall. With the launch of this new portal, the entire reform ordinance is now fully implemented.
“The home-sharing industry is an important part of our city, but up until today we have been limited in our ability to ensure responsible operations,” said Emma Mitts, 37th Ward Alderman and Chairman of the Committee on License and Consumer Protection. “With this new portal, Chicago can finally take the lead with strong and ground-breaking regulations that ensure safety, protect residents and maintain innovation within the industry.”
Prior to the launch of the new portal, shared housing hosts submitted their registration information directly to the Short Term Residential Rental Intermediaries – AirBnB or HomeAway – who then submitted this information to BACP every two weeks. This has led to incomplete data and a lack of identifying information that would support enforcement against problem locations. Now, applicants will be required to submit complete and accurate information directly to BACP along with a new $125 registration fee in order to register. This will improve BACP’s ability to verify that the applicant has met the requirements of the Shared Housing ordinance before approving a registration application and will help BACP take enforcement action when necessary against problem locations.
Additionally, prior to today’s implementation of the reform ordinance, shared housing hosts have been granted the ability to immediately list and rent their units through an intermediary before receiving approval from BACP. Now that applications are submitted directly to BACP, shared housing hosts will no longer be able to list and rent their unit while their application is pending and must wait until an application is approved by BACP before listing their unit on any platform. This will strengthen existing regulations by preventing the listing of units at prohibited locations and prevent frivolous appeals that unnecessarily prolong the application process.
Finally, effective today, shared housing intermediaries will pay a tiered licensing fee based on the size of their platform. Previously, all intermediaries paid an annual fee of $10,000. Effective today, intermediaries with 1 to 499 units will pay a decreased fee of $5,000 per year, intermediaries with 500 to 999 units will pay $7,500, and intermediaries with 1,000 or more units will pay the current rate of $10,000 per year. This will make it easier for smaller operators to compete and come into compliance.
“This portal and the newly implemented ordinance will bring about much-needed change; for too long, communities have suffered from out of control ‘party houses,' in my ward and throughout the city,” said Michele Smith, 43rd Ward Alderman and co-sponsor of the reform ordinance. “Chicago residents will now benefit from a new system that facilitates greater oversight of the shared housing industry and will improve quality of life throughout Chicago.”
The over 6,900 existing shared housing hosts in Chicago will be expected to use the new portal to renew their registration when their current registration expires – information has been sent directly to hosts to help them navigate the new system, and additional information, including an FAQ and user guides, can be found on the portal itself. Individuals interested in obtaining a shared housing registration can use the new portal to submit their application directly to BACP. BACP will also be hosting a webinar on Thursday, June 10, for new and existing hosts – register and learn more at chicago.gov/businesseducation.