July 21, 2017

Vacation rental company HomeAway.com alleges Chicago ordinance gives Airbnb advantage

Homeaway Logo
HomeAway Logo

HomeAway.com Inc., an online vacation rentals company, has filed suit against the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection over an ordinance it claims gives preference to competitor Airbnb and violates the First and 14th amendments.

HomeAway is part of the Expedia Inc. family and was established in 2005 as an online marketplace for people to list, search and book short-term and vacation housing accommodations. HomeAway filed the suit on May 22 in the U.S District Court for Northern Illinois, Eastern Division claiming that the “deeply flawed law” threatens fines that are based on categories “that cannot meaningfully be distinguished from one another,” after months of attempting to engage the department to find a resolution.

The city’s 58-page ordinance went into effect March 14 and seeks to impose more regulations on home-sharing sites. Among those regulations are both websites and consumers choosing the correct category, providing the city with reports and operating with proper licenses. If these are not met, they could be fined up to $3,000 per listing, per day.

Those wishing to rent or list a property must choose from the categories “vacation rentals” or “shared housing units,” which are functionally identical in the language […]

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