I had six properties before the pandemic. I closed two as soon as it hit. I converted two into long term rentals around June. Not because I could not stomach the downturn but because I could not stomach airbnb as a partner. This was a business for me so the constant uncertainty was unacceptable. They kept extending EC two weeks at a time, keeping my calendar blocked but at the end of the day refunding everyone. I had all weekends booked this summer so I never could take a longer stay if this continued to be an STR. Then Airbnb started to randomly cancel one and two night reservations a couple of days before arrival siting a non existent ordinance. They kept allowing guests to book but then would suddenly cancel. The guests that came instead of cancellations were unreal. The handful that was not tying to throw a party had insane expectations. The conversion of those two to LTR left me with one house that I hosted as two areas- two bedroom and a three bedroom or an option to rent the whole house. That’s when Airbnb dropped another bomb. The only way to get Chicago city registration through the listing. I can not go down to city hall, there is no form to fill out. Apparently airbnb has not renewed my license since a October. The violation I received was something like $3000 per day of operating without a license. I tried to get Airbnb to help but needless to say could not get attention of anyone who is actually able to do so. I have just paid $5000 to an attorney to negotiate a settlement with the city of $2500. I have to take all thee listings down by July 31 from all sites. Even though Airbnb was the one to mess up, this applied to VRBO etc. I will be trying to get a different license from the city but I can only list the property as a five bedroom which will be really hard for many months as groups are not travelling right now. When I have set out to do short term rentals, I have thought through pretty much every scenario including loss of license so I cannot say I am shocked. I know I am an absolute nobody to this company and ten other hosts will replace me once things are better and they will be great hosts. It sucks to be a nobody though.
I have always posted that I would stay with Air BNB as long as the platform relationship was beneficial. Your experience is terrible and a reminder that the platform does not always work. Currently I have snoozed my listing as I do not think I want to deal with the terrible situation on this platform. Unlike you, I am able to walk away for awhile. Good luck and stay safe.
@Inna22 Ha, indeed, it does suck to be a nobody, from one nobody to another. I'm going through the permit application process right now, even though since airbnb put our listing on the last search page, its probably pointless to continue, but I really did not want to do a long term rental.
I wonder if you can prove that the fault of the permit was w/airbnb if you could convince the city not to apply the fine, some smaller landlords I think have had success with these onerous fines, or since you had multiple properties they might not be sympathetic to you?
I wish you the best of luck whatever happens and will always remember you if for nothing else that post about the drunk cleaning woman, that is probably the single funnies post ever on this forum by a large margin.
@Inna5 Sorry to hear that !! A friend of mine also had registration issues. She had a 2nd Floor bedroom and a Basement room listed. Separate registration numbers.
For a while, both were active. Then, both were not renewed. Then one was renewed, one was not. She received several notices from Dept of Business Affairs.
She called the City, and they said Airbnb has to resolve it. She called Airbnb and they said it was a City issue. So after going around and around, for a while, she just snoozed both listings.
@Michelle53 yes, exactly. Our street is opposing a massive hotel (we are one way one block residential street with two schools- what does a hotel have to do with us?) that’s being backed by our paid off alderman and I suspect this is how my alderman is giving me a hint to shut up
@Inna5 There are a lot of things at play.
Firstly, I think many Alderman and residents, especially on the North Side, are fed up with Airbnb "party houses", and are using that to have the City crack down hard on hosts where parties may have occurred, even if the host was unaware of it. That seems to be resulting in a low tolerance for any situation that exists outside of the letter of the STR ordinance. Some of those Aldermen were vocally opposed to Airbnb in their wards right from the start, and are looking for any opportunity to revisit and tighten the rules.
Secondly, there are things in the ordinance that make multiple registrations in one building complicated.
- if one is incorporated as an Inc or LLC (not a natural person)
- if one hosts in a single family home, but it is not the host's primary residence
- if it's an apartment or condo building with limitations
Thirdly, since City offices have been closed due to the pandemic, the usual appeal and review process has, I imagine, been largely stalled.
It seems like the situation of having multiple listings at one address automatically gets flagged for administrative review.
I wonder if you can wait until City offices have opened up, and then revisit the appeals process. I am certainly not an attorney, and reading the language of the ordinance can be confusing, but, since the ordinance applies to both Airbnb and VRBO, it may be worth revisiting the ordinance with your attorney, and see if there are specific sections that apply to you where you might have the basis for an appeal. Financial hardship, for example.
@Inna22 This is terrible news. And pardon my French, but what a complete and utter clusterf**k. How dare they be so inept? I hope your attorney is a pit bull.
I'll miss you here, where you are a major Somebody.
We had the opposite issue here. Airbnb begged hosts to help them lobby the city to legalize STR's. We did, but then only 250 of us applied for a license but the city said there were more than 1,000 units that did not.
So we have excess competition which has depressed prices. And many of the unlicensed ones are owned by out of state investors who are buying up affordable housing, or LLC's using low-ball rates so they can write off depreciation losses against their ordinary income.
So everyone's income is way down. I can't compete with a "whole house" that is advertising 2-3 times the max allowable capacity and at $59/night. We just successfully shut one down who had parties of 20 or more (max is 8 in Kansas City).
If Airbnb would just require proof of paperwork or status, then kick off the rest, life would be smoother. But I've heard other hosts say things are not much better with VRBO and HomeAway (both owned by Expedia). I don't have the energy to use more than one platform. But I am disheartened at the lack of support hosts are getting.
Yes - good hosts are going to leave. I think hosts and Airbnb staff deserve better than what they're getting from upper management.
i'm sorry this happened to you
and its a perfect example of a startup getting too big for its britches, making a sh!t ton of money, taking advantage of customers acting like their partners, talking all "sharing economy lmfao" with %13 or more booking fees (who does that i know i'm not paying that) keep taking everyone's money, not supporting them in emergencies and administratively or compliance wise, and then trying to backpeddle and backfit the terms of service into legal compliance and the laws and city officials getting kick back from hotels all which do not only support airbnb but despises them
this entire business model is going to eventually fall apart
Oh @Inna22 I'm so sorry. This should be a wake-up call to Airbnb if they are losing brilliant hosts like you. I hope you manage to sort out your licensing issues (sounds like a nightmare). I will really miss your insights and your hilarious posts on this forum (the drunk cleaning lady is one of my all-time favourite Airbnb stories). You are definitely a somebody to us.