Real Estate & Property Tax Law

Lawyer's tree house, rented online for $195 a night, is legal but may raise property tax bill

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Civil rights lawyer Dan Alexander also has some carpentry skills. And, since he was a boy, he has wanted a tree house. So, seven years ago, he built one behind his suburban Chicago home, with the help of a friend, his son and a how-to book.

The 196-square-foot structure was legal under Schaumburg’s laws at the time, but after he began renting it out three years ago (it’s available on Airbnb for $195 a night), officials took a closer look at their municipal ordinances. As a result, new rules are being developed that, if approved, would prevent anyone else from constructing a tree house as big and elaborate as Alexander’s, according to the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune.

His Airbnb rental is legal under the municipality’s code because Alexander technically rents out a room in his home and allows guests to utilize the back yard and tree house, too, the AP article explains.

However, it could wind up increasing his property tax bill, the Daily Herald reports. Schaumburg’s assessor, John Lawson, is now researching to determine whether the tree house should be classified as a separate residence on the same property.

If the structure wasn’t located in a tree, it clearly would be classified as a separate residence, says Lawson, who tells the newspaper he’s never addressed this issue before. “But it’s not on the ground, it’s in the air.”

A WGN article links to a video tour of the tree house.

See also: “Dangerous Structure Needs Regulation: The Childhood Tree House” “Lawyer Building Tree House Office in Pine Forest” “NYC Tree House Prevails in Legal Battle, Winning Permit in Historic District”

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