Chicago Sued Over New Airbnb Regulations

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 16, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

This past summer, the city of Chicago passed new regulations on home-sharing and short-term rental companies like Airbnb, adding a new four percent licensing fee to fund enforcement and homeless services, along with a complaint hotline. The new rules also require those who lease their houses or apartments by the night to pay share data on their listings with the city to ensure compliance with the law.

But a new lawsuit claims those rules "imposed draconian and unintelligible restrictions on home-sharing that hurt communities, violate constitutional rights, and punish responsible homeowners." You can see the full complaint below:

Warrantless Searches?

According to the lawsuit, Chicago's new ordinance "requires any property owner who rents out a room or home through a shared-housing arrangement classified as a 'vacation rental' to submit to warrantless inspections by city officials or third parties," and that rentals would be subject to "an unlimited number of inspections by the building commissioner or any third party he or she may designate 'at any time and in any manner.'" The plaintiff property owners allege this would unconstitutionally bypass the warrant requirement for search and seizure.

"The search-warrant rule is one of oldest and most cherished of our constitutional traditions," Christina Sandefur, one of the attorneys filing the case, told the Phoenix Business Journal. "It's astonishing that city bureaucrats think they can search people's homes without a warrant, and without even any suspicion, simply because they allow visitors to stay in their homes." The lawsuit also claims that city officials and third parties could conduct warrantless searches of guests' personal information.

Discriminatory Taxation?

The suit, filed by Chicago property owners Leila Mendez, Alonso Zaragoza, and Michael Lucci, and Sheila Sasso, also claims the city's new rules impose a different fee structure on '"vacation rentals" and "shared housing units" than on other entities like "hotel accommodations," and that the discrepancy is unjustified and discriminatory against those who rent their property through sites like Airbnb.

You can see the lawsuit in its entirety, along with further allegations about noise restrictions and rental caps, below:

Leila Mendez v. City of Chicago by FindLaw on Scribd

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