July 10–Residents living on a Highland Park cul-de-sac are locked in a legal dispute with a former neighbor who now lives out of state but rents his spacious home on their block for short-term stays using the vacation rental site Airbnb.
A lawsuit filed by Cooper Lane homeowners in late 2017 alleges the property owner, Bal K. Bansal, has continued to advertise and lease the home for short-term stays after being informed that all rentals must be for a period of at least one year.
This is not the first time the home has been involved in legal proceedings. In 2014, rapper Chief Keef was evicted from the house after falling behind on rent payments.
The vacation website says the “beautiful mansion near O’Hare and Chicago” can accommodate 15 guests. The six-bedroom, eight-bath home is listed at $773 and $690 per night, depending on the day. Since the home became a short-stay rental, neighbors have lodged complaints about the use of the home in the 1800 block of Cooper Lane for large parties and other activities they say disrupt their ability to enjoy their own properties.
“The four other home owners are frustrated by the use of a residence as a commercial hotel with all the noise and vices a hotel creates including heavy traffic and drunkenness,” said Ken Cooper, one of the affected residents. “We have to clean up empty beer cans from our street and ponds after the … guests’ debauch. Last week a guest mistook our driveway for the hotel and got stuck on our lawn. We now have several deep holes in the lawn. My neighbor across the street had his stone wall knocked down after a guest backed into it after mistaking his home for the hotel.”
Cooper said a teen birthday party last year drew 300 people and police had to shut it down.
“When the wind comes from the west, one can smell the dope being smoked…,” Cooper said. “Hopefully, the Lake County court can rectify the situation.”
Complaints from Cooper Lane neighbors were one reason Highland Park officials last year considered whether to prohibit, allow or regulate short-term rentals. City staff found a dozen short-term rental listings in Highland Park on four vacation websites. The Cooper Lane location was the only short-term rental property that had generated complaints to Highland Park police, the former police chief reported at the time.
The Highland Park City Council elected not to ban short-term rentals, citing the small number of listings and the even smaller number of complaints. Instead, the council approved an amendment to the Cooper Pond of Highland Park Homeowners Association agreement that includes a requirement that all leases be for a minimum of 12 months.
The city council also tweaked its rental registration ordinance to require owners who don’t live on the premises to register short-term rentals.
After the Cooper Pond amendments were approved by four of the five homeowners, as well as the city council, the association sent Bansal a cease and desist letter last September and advised him that continued rental on a short-term basis would be considered a violation. The association filed suit Nov. 29 seeking an injunction to block such rentals.
Court proceedings have been moving slowly due in part to missed court appearances and confusion over whether Bansal or his daughter is responsible for the leasing. The vacation rental site lists Rania Bansal as the host, and says she lives in Highland Park. In court papers, she said she spends about 10 days each month at her mother’s Highland Park address but most of her time at a home she owns in Ohio.
In a court filing, Bal Bansal indicated he had authorized his daughter to list the property, handle the use of the property and accept payments from Airbnb, but he also indicated the payments go to his bank account.
The next status hearing before Circuit Court Judge Luis Berrones is July 27.
When reached for comment Tuesday, Bansal referred the call to his daughter, who could not be reached for comment. Bansal’s attorney, James Borcia, did not respond to requests for comment.
In a recent court filing, the Cooper Pond association listed 21 separate occasions between Sep. 23 and April 1 that the home was believed to have been leased for periods of between two and six days in violation of the restrictions put in place last year. As of April, the association had levied fines totaling more than $40,000 against Bansal.
Still, the home’s listing on the vacation site contains glowing reviews from guests posted as recently as April, May and June of this year.
“I was pleasantly surprised in booking this place,” wrote one commenter. “I knew it was a large house with sufficient space, but the extra details … from the Keurig coffee, organic milk, eggs and bagels to the slippers and toiletries.”
Wrote another, “The hosts had toiletries and snacks and breakfast laid out for us. Our bridal party loved the space and the photographer said it was a great place for the ‘getting ready’ pictures.”
One writer said the home was perfect for his business get-together.
“Rania’s place has plenty of walking paths to explore morning and evening . . . you don’t have to drive anywhere to get to some wildlife parks. We saw several deer in the next door yard, and plenty of other wildlife in the neighborhood.”
The amended association agreement states that “no lot shall be leased or subleased for hotel, transit, lodging or boarding house purposes” including use as a “bed and breakfast, vacation rental hotel or other type of short-term rental.”
This article provided by NewsEdge.