Chicago short-term apartment rentals cause some tenants to worry about potential security concerns

CHICAGO (WLS) – Could hotel style living take hold in your apartment complex?

Real estate experts call this practice “mixed living,” combining traditional apartments with colocation and rental companies. This allows travelers to use the apartments in the same way as hotel rooms.

However, some tenants told ABC 7’s I-Team that they were caught off guard when they realized management was allowing temporary clientele to use the buildings, stairwells and guest rooms. common areas.

“I live alone, so safety is the priority for me,” said Marie DiStasio.

DiStasio shared videos with the I-Team showing how his building’s stairwell doors could be accessed by short-term tenants and travelers staying on other floors. She’s worried about guests using the amenities floor of the luxury Old Town Park skyscraper where she lives.

“I don’t know who comes in and who goes out anymore,” she said. “I had to go through a background check, a credit check and now they’re just renting these rooms by the night.”

It was only after signing her last one-year lease that she said she discovered that some apartments were rented by the night.

The I-Team has contacted building management, Onni Group, regarding DiStasio’s concerns. They sent a statement saying that their reception team were receiving “extensive professional training” and that they “offered 24/7 concierge service in all of our buildings, ensuring an immediate response to any tenant inquiries. or guests, allowing us to quickly deal with anything that may arise “.

Onni Group added that they had “no problem with our other properties in other markets.”

“Chicago, by most short-term rental operator standards, is the number one destination,” said Susan Tjarksen, apartment real estate expert at Cushman & Wakefield.

Tjarksen said people who travel for business and pleasure prefer a family setting rather than a hotel setting. This, combined with the increased profitability of apartment building owners, is driving the demand for short and long term apartment tenants sharing the same space.

“These are compatible uses, they don’t need to be conflicting. We can now have what I would call mixed life,” Tjarksen said. “People can live harmoniously together in the same building, having different needs.”

“When I’m alone, I really watch who comes in through the door behind me, who else might be in the hallway, and I lock the door as soon as I walk in,” said Julia Anderson.

Anderson is another long-term tenant keen to share her building with short-term tenants. She and her husband live in a converted church in Wicker Park and said they had not been made aware of the mixed living arrangement.

But Anderson said there are certain amenities to having short-term rentals in your building.

“When people visit us, they don’t necessarily have to sleep with us in the apartment, they can stay right next door. It’s really convenient,” she said.

The I-Team spoke to long-term traditional tenants of the South Loop Essex on the Park skyscraper, who said they recently found out about the building’s short-term rental offer.

“I definitely have safety concerns about this, I discussed it with them,” said Brenda Andrews. “It hasn’t been a problem yet, but it’s something that could be a problem at some point.”

“I’m on the fence about this, I had no problem. So I hope nothing bad will happen,” said Rueben Flores.

Sonder, the rental agency for the Converted Church and Essex on the Park, sent a statement addressed only to Essex: “In addition to a two night minimum and checking for ID with photo, every guest who makes a reservation at Essex on the Park must pass a criminal background check. We also operate a no-party policy and have a team on site all day, including professional security at night.

Oxford Capital Group and Bozzuto Management Company, the owner and management companies of the building, sent a statement saying: “As lifestyles change with more and more people seeking greater mobility and flexibility, we We have seen an increase in demand for short term housing in cities like Chicago … we only work with the best short term rental providers, such as Sonder. “

They added that some of their short-term guests have decided to become long-term residents.

Tjarksen said it’s important for property managers to have open communication with long-term residents to ensure their needs and concerns are met.

“Renters who are not used to this type of rental should discuss with property managers what the plan is and what security looks like, such as background checks,” she said.

But DiStasio said traditional tenants should have been made aware of this new model change in his building before signing their current leases.

“I moved in here, built a house here and now strangers are coming in and out,” she said.

The I-Team interviewed the city’s Department of Commercial Affairs and Consumer Protection about the three buildings in our report.

In a statement, they said, “The City of Chicago has a strong regulatory structure in place to ensure that short-term rentals are conducted in a safe and regulated manner. As new business models enter the market. … “

The BACP “is working to ensure that these models fit into our existing regulations and that neighbors have the opportunity to fix their problems,” the statement continued.

The BACP also said it is working to strengthen the enforcement and regulation of short-term rentals, especially as these new models develop.


At the award-winning Onni Old Town Park, we have reserved multiple floors of our units for our ‘LEVEL’ hotel brand. LEVEL is a professionally managed hospitality product, fully owned and operated by the Onni Group. LEVEL offers a full-service hospitality experience, geared towards luxury business travelers, families looking for larger, more comfortable spaces, and clients relocating to or within Chicago.

The LEVEL team receives extensive professional training and our in-house management team is in charge of all aspects of the experience, working with our top-notch staff at Old Town Park.

As a business, LEVEL has been in business for over a decade and we manage several mixed rental properties in Los Angeles as well as Vancouver, and will be launching our next property in early 2021 in Seattle. At LEVEL and Onni, we pride ourselves on delivering a top notch experience to all of our guests and tenants, and we have had no issues at our other properties in other markets. We offer a 24/7 concierge service in all of our buildings, guaranteeing an immediate response to all tenant or guest inquiries, allowing us to quickly deal with anything that may arise.

We look forward to expanding our offering of multi-family and hotel properties in Chicago, and are confident that any tenant or guest living in our properties will have the best experience available.


We partnered with Sonder in July 2019. As lifestyles change with more and more people wanting greater mobility and flexibility, we have seen an increase in demand for short-term housing, especially in cities like Chicago.

We have a thorough bidding process whereby we partner only with the best short-term rental providers, such as Sonder, who are as committed as we are to creating extraordinary experiences for every resident of our community.

We have five long term residents who first discovered Essex while staying with us in Sonder. Trying to try out the residential experience before committing to a longer lease is a truly unique experience. From the friendliness of the Resident Experience office staff to the cleanliness of a luxurious community, Sonder clients experience the touchpoints of hospitality not only during an hour-long visit, but throughout. throughout their stay.


In addition to a 2 night minimum and photo ID verification, each guest who makes a reservation at Essex on the Park must pass a criminal background check. We also operate a no-party policy and have a team on site all day, including professional security at night.

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