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Chicago Home Sharing Registration: Frequently Asked Questions

The City of Chicago passed new rules for home sharing in July of 2016 and February of 2017.

Chicago requires that hosts register with the city in order to list and rent their space on sites like Airbnb. We’ve partnered with the city to help simplify the process. Airbnb hosts can apply for a registration number directly from our website or app.

The following section provides answers frequently asked questions about Chicago’s registration process, and about the ordinance in general.

General questions

  1. What is registration?

    Registration is the process by which a host registers their listing(s) with the city of Chicago. This process can be completed through an approved hosting platform, like Airbnb.

  2. Who needs to register?

    Anyone with a property listed for short-term rent on a hosting platform like Airbnb must register. This does not apply if you already have a valid shared housing unit registration, vacation rental license, or bed and breakfast license.

  3. How much does it cost to register?

    There is currently no cost to registering through Airbnb.

  4. How often do I need to renew my registration?

    Registration must be renewed annually. You can renew directly through Airbnb.

  5. What’s the difference between a license number and a registration number?

    Chicago has different requirements depending on what type of property a host is listing. If you're listing a bed and breakfast (B&B) or vacation rental (VR), you may need a specific type of license, rather than a registration number. Learn more.

  6. I have multiple listings. Do I need to register all of them separately?

    Each unique address must be registered (or have a license), but individual listings within the same address do not need a separate registration number. For example, your property at 500 Main St. needs one registration number, whether you list the entire space as one rental unit or list multiple private rooms at that address. When setting up new, separate listings for rooms at a previously-registered address, select “I already have a license or registration number for this listing” on the Overview page and add your number when prompted.

  7. I set up or published my listing(s) before the new Chicago ordinance was passed. Do I have to register?

    All listings, including listings that existed prior to the new ordinance, must either have a valid vacation rental or bed and breakfast license, or must register with the city as part of the new ordinance. Licenses issued prior to the passage of the ordinance are still valid, so there’s no need to register if you already have one. If you’re not sure, you can always register through Airbnb and the city will let you know if a previous license is still valid.

  8. How does the registration process for work for new listings?

    When you set up a new listing in Chicago, Airbnb will collect some basic information as part of the registration process. We’ll submit that information to the city on your behalf to apply for a registration number when you publish your listing. If you already have a valid license or registration number, your information will not be submitted again.

  9. How does the registration process work for existing listings?

    If you’ve already published a listing on Airbnb, regardless of whether it’s currently listed or unlisted, you’ll get an email from Airbnb prompting you to register. From there, you’ll be asked to complete a few steps in the Regulations tab of Manage Listing to apply for a registration number. We'll submit the relevant information to the city on your behalf. You'll need to make sure your listing is public (that is, set to "listed") when you complete this process.

  10. What information is shared with the city when I register?

    According to the ordinance, the following information is required to be shared with the city during registration:

    1. The host’s name (this should be the primary resident, not a co-host or business);
    2. The address of the unit being registered;
    3. The contact information for the host or a local contact person, such as a co-host, including email address and phone number (if available);
    4. Whether the unit being listed is a:
      • Single family home;
      • Unit in a multi-unit building; and
      • Whether the listing will make the entire dwelling unit available for rent or a room or portion of the dwelling unit available for rent.
    5. Whether the unit being listed is the host’s primary residence.

  11. Will my information be shared with other departments at the city?

    The city has represented to Airbnb that it will only use your information to ensure compliance with the requirements of the new ordinance and to respond to health and safety emergencies.

  12. Will my landlord or HOA be notified when I register?

    The city has represented to Airbnb that your landlord or HOA will not be notified under most circumstances. However, the ordinance bans the listing of short-term rental units in buildings that have registered on the city’s Prohibited Buildings List. If you’re listing a unit or property included on this list, your application for a registration number may be rejected on those grounds, and you’ll be given the opportunity to remove your listing from Airbnb at that time. If you choose to appeal a registration rejection for a property on the Prohibited Buildings List, your landlord or HOA may be notified by the city. Similarly, if you continue to list a property on the Prohibited Buildings List, your landlord or HOA may be notified by the city.

  13. What do I do if I am a co-host or have a co-host?

    Properties must be registered on behalf of the owner or tenant. However, as part of registration, a host can submit contact information for a co-host who will then be the point of contact for communications from Airbnb and the city.

  14. Will my personal registration information be displayed publicly on my listing?

    Information submitted to the city as part of the registration process - such as name, address, and contact information - will only be publicly displayed if you separately include it in your published listing.

  15. Can I list my property on Airbnb before my registration is approved?

    Yes. Once you submit your registration application, you can continue to list and book your space as usual until the city gets back to you with a registration number or more information. While awaiting further instruction, the city requires that hosts indicate “Registration pending” in their listing description. We’ll handle that part of the process for you.

  16. What happens if my registration is approved?

    Then you're good to go! Just make sure you continue to comply with the ordinance and post your registration number clearly on your listing page.

  17. What happens if my registration is rejected?

    The city will notify you if your property is rejected during the registration process. They will communicate (1) the reason(s) your property was rejected for a registration number, (2) whether this decision can be reversed through a commissioner’s adjustment, and (3) the process for appealing the decision with the city, if you chose to do so. If you continue to host your listing(s) after being rejected, and don't appeal the decision with the city, you may be subject to fines and other penalties. In some cases, we may remove your listing(s) from Airbnb.

  18. What if I need to change my registration information after it’s been approved, like contact information for instance?

    You must contact the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs.

  19. For what reasons can the city reject my registration?

    The city can reject a registration if it determines that a listing conflicts with any of the eligibility conditions set forth in Chicago Municipal Code section 4-13-260, such as the property is not zoned as residential or if the property is listed on the city’s Building Code Scofflaw List. All ineligibility conditions can be found here.

  20. What happens if I stop hosting on Airbnb? Is my registration transferable to other hosting platforms?

    In Chicago, a shared housing unit registration number is valid for use on any approved home sharing platform. Your registration number will continue to be valid until it expires or the city revokes it.

  21. Can I register multiple listings at different addresses?

    Yes. But if you plan on listing more than one shared shared housing unit, you'll need to get a special license from the city. You can learn more about that process here.

  22. If my registration is denied after receiving bookings, what happens to those bookings?

    Any bookings you receive while your registration application is pending can be completed, but you will not be able to accept any future bookings until your registration status is resolved.

  23. What’s the city’s privacy policy, and how does it apply to my information?

    Please review the city’s Privacy Policy.

  24. What if I have a complaint about an Airbnb host in my neighborhood?

    If you think your neighbor is an Airbnb host and you have a complaint, call the Chicago 24/7 hotline number at (630) 541-4688.

Ordinance-specific questions

  1. Where can I read the full ordinance?

    You can check out the July 2016 amendments here and the February 2017 amendments here.

  2. The ordinance mentions “short-term residential rentals” – what exactly does that mean?

    A short-term residential rental is a property in Chicago that is rented as a shared housing unit, bed-and-breakfast, or vacation rental.

  3. What are the categories of short-term residential rentals in Chicago?

    There are three types of short-term residential rentals in Chicago: shared housing units, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts.

  4. What’s the difference between these categories?

    • Shared housing unit: Shared housing units must be registered through an approved online platform, like Airbnb, in order to be rented online. Hosts are required to post their property’s registration number on their listing. For most hosts listing their home (or a room in their home), registering that property as a shared housing unit is the easiest and quickest path to complying with the Chicago ordinance. There are some limitations on what type of property can be registered through the online registration system, however, as spelled out below.
    • Vacation rental: Vacation rentals need a license from the city in order to be rented on home sharing platforms like Airbnb. Hosts are required to post their property’s license number on their listing. Most Airbnb users will choose to register their listing as a shared housing unit unless they want to list a single family home that is not their primary residence (vacation rental).
    • Bed and breakfast: Bed and breakfasts need a license from the city in order to be rented on home sharing platforms like Airbnb. Hosts are required to post their property’s license number on their listing. Most Airbnb users will choose to register their listing as a shared housing unit unless they plan to serve food or engage in other specialized activity requiring a license (bed and breakfast).

  5. What other requirements should I be aware of as a host in Chicago?

    As a host, it’s your responsibility to familiarize yourself with all relevant laws and rules applicable to home sharing in Chicago. Please take a moment to review other local laws that may affect you.

    • Listing requirements: The Chicago ordinance requires hosts include certain information within their listing. This includes the unit’s registration or license number, cancellation and check-in/check-out policies, and whether the property is or ADA accessible. See Sections 4-6-300(h), 4-14-040(a) for details.
    • Operating requirements: The ordinance also requires hosts meet certain operating requirements, such as maintaining specific types of insurance, installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and providing soap and clean linens. See Sections 4-6-300(f), 4-14-040(b) for details.

  6. What are the penalties for violating the ordinance?

    Hosts who violate any part of the Chicago ordinance may be subject to penalties, including loss of registration or license, fines, and potential follow-up from the city.

Last Updated: 5/22/2019