If you ever wanted to rent out your home or condo as an Airbnb or VRBO location to those seeking a vacation rental in the Chicago area, you can now do so legally if you live in Riverside.
On Aug. 18, the Riverside Village Board voted 4 to 0 to allow vacation rentals and, notably, trustees voted to remove a provision recommended by the Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission, which would have required owners of vacation rentals in residential districts to obtain a special use permit. The commission had recommended allowing vacation rentals by right in commercial districts.
But with a $1,000 price tag associated with the special use permitting process, which also would have required notification of neighbors and a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission, trustees balked at the requirement for residential areas.
“I think we’ve made it almost impossible to allow residents to do it,” said Trustee Michael Sedivy in opposing the recommendation requiring a special use permit for vacation rentals in residential zoning districts.
Sonya Abt, the village’s community development director, said that there was some concern that parking and other potential nuisance-related issues led the planning and zoning commission to recommend the special use process in residential districts.
Trustee Joseph Ballerine, who said he had used Airbnb on several occasions and found it to be a positive option in places he’d visited, agreed that the special use process was too onerous.
“I think they’re wonderful,” Ballerine said of the vacation rental options. He also said Airbnb was “self-policed” by reviewers who could spread the word on poor experiences/owners.
“I think it’s something we should promote,” Ballerine said. “I think it’s wonderful for our community to open itself up. … We live in a great place, and we should boast about our place.
“There are so many cool places you get to discover when this is available.”
Trustees, however, kept in placed several other recommendations from the planning and zoning commission, including requirements that vacation rental owners become licensed annually and submit to biennial village inspections.
Owners must also provide proof of $1 million in liability insurance, another requirement that was questioned but ultimately adopted by trustees.
Village Attorney Michael Marrs said the requirement was for the protection of those renting places in Riverside. Marrs said there have been instances in which Airbnb users have suffered injuries while staying at properties.
“You want to make sure that when someone’s conducting a business activity that they’re properly insured,” Marrs said.
Other provisions of the new law state that vacation rental owners can’t rent their homes or condos more than 60 days per year or to any one occupant for more than 30 days or less than 24 hours.
The person seeking to rent the home must own at least 25-percent of the property; apartments legally cannot be sublet as vacation rentals. Food and drink can’t be served by the owners except for pre-packaged items meant for single-serving use.
The vacation rental does not include “house swapping” arrangements where families trade homes for vacation purposes with no money changing hands.
Riverside officials will now begin putting together the forms and processes to license and inspect vacation rental applicants. As soon as those materials are ready, people may begin applying for licenses.