On Nov. 1, 2021, the village of Oak Park passed a new short-term rental ordinance aimed at regulating area homeowners who rent out all or part of their homes for short-term rentals. 

The ordinance defines short-term rentals as: “An owner-occupied or non-owner-occupied single-family residential abode, including townhomes, condominiums and rooming house dwelling units that are either primarily owner-occupied, except for the duration of any short-term rental period, or are owned but not owner occupied for the duration of any short-term rental period.”

The complete ordinance can be viewed at tinyurl.com/5n8t2hur.

Short-term rentals are often listed on websites such as VRBO and Airbnb. The village’s new ordinance requires an annual license for short-term rentals and sets in place a number of rules, including regulations on maximum occupancy, parking, rental time minimums, proof of homeowner’s insurance for the host and proof of identification for rental guests.

 In order to obtain a license, homeowners must apply, pay a $50 fee and have the property inspected by staff from village’s fire, health and/or development customer services departments.

The new ordinance required all short-term rental owners to obtain a business license from the village by June 1, and village officials say the process is working well.

As of Aug. 15, the village had licensed 37 short-term rentals, with an additional 20 to 25 more in the application and inspection process, according to Oak Park’s director of customer services, Cameron Davis.

Davis says short-term rentals are a positive part of the village landscape.

“Short-term rentals are good for the community,” Davis said. “They generate a good bit of income, and we all know people really enjoy staying in them.”

Like local hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, short-term rentals pay a 4-percent tax to the village. Davis says that in the first months of 2022, short-term rentals generated $62,868 in hotel taxes.

Annual license fees for short-term rentals are $100 for an owner-occupied rental, $250 for a non-owner occupied rental where the owner is a village resident and $350 for a non-owner occupied rental where the owner is not a village resident.

Jeff Prior, Oak Park’s neighborhood services manager, states that fees vary due to the village wanting to recognize that some owners will be onsite or live nearby and can be closer to the rentals.

Davis says that while the creation of the ordinance generated plenty of public comment, it makes sense to license short-term rentals as the village would regulate any other business in the community. The license fees typically cover village services related to short-term rentals and the inspections, which make sure the short-term rentals meet fire safety and other health and safety measures.

The village calls on a few available services to help identify local owners who are on hosting websites for short-term rentals. In May, the village reached out to those owners with a letter outlining the application process for the license. 

“This will be a dynamic situation as people start getting licenses,” Davis said. “Some people have already contacted us and said they are no longer renting; some read about the license on-line and are just starting the process. It’s a new licensing system. We will be adding and subtracting, and I’m sure it will be a fluctuating list of properties.”

As the village becomes aware of people operating short-term rentals, officials will reach out to owners to start the licensing process. 

“We are looking for compliance, not looking to punish anyone,” Prior said.

The ordinance does provide for fines for owners who violate the ordinance. The fine for a first violation is $200, for a second violation $500 and for a third or subsequent violation $750.

Davis says the point of the ordinance is to protect renters and regulate short-term rentals as all other businesses are regulated by the village. 

“We have some really beautiful short-term rental spaces in Oak Park,” Davis said. “Not surprisingly, they are generating a lot of revenue. We also have a lovely B&B here with the Harvey House, and the Carleton is a great hotel, too.”

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