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Harley-Davidson's 110th anniversary could mean new neighbors for the weekend

CREATED Aug. 26, 2013 - UPDATED: Aug. 27, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - You may think you know your neighbors, but just wait until this weekend. There's a chance you'll be living next to strangers. Hundreds of neighbors throughout the Milwaukee area are putting their homes up for rent looking to cash in on Harley-Davidson's big 110th anniversary. However, the City of Milwaukee advises the risk may not be worth the reward.

While hotels from Milwaukee to Chicago are full, there's listing after listing, home after home, up for rent for the weekend. And not just Milwaukee. Mukwonago, Muskego, Caledonia, and just about every neighboring city has homes up for rent.
 
Alan Koepke listed his Wauwatosa home on Craigslist.
 
"I don't have a specific price. I am just looking for best offer," Koepke explains.
 
Chris Muellenbach owns My Dwelling, a company that helps home owners rent out their homes. His business even started a website, HarleyHousing.com, specifically for renting out properties for the big weekend. Muellenbach says some are homes that are in-between renters. He says most of the homes listed though, the owners live in and are willing to get out of town for the weekend.
 
"We've had calls from both coasts," Muellenbach says.
 
Milwaukee welcomes bikers from across the country to celebrate one of its biggest companies' anniversary. But it does not welcome neighbors using their homes as hotels.
 
"That's not allowed in the city of Milwaukee," says Tom Mishefske, the Operations Manager for Milwaukee's Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS).
 
"That's why we are having leases," explains Muellenbach.
 
It's true, a short term lease can be an exception. However, the city advises there's still many zoning and code violations at risk depending on the neighborhood.
 
"There are ordinances that would not allow a rental of a residential property," says Mishefske.
 
There's also rules about how many unrelated adults can stay at a home. You can't turn your backyard into a campground. Also, if you are renting out your home, you need to record it with the city and time is running out to fill out that paperwork and be approved.
 
Despite the fun weekend, DNS expects a lot of complaints.
 
"We don't know what we will see," says Mishefske. 
 
The city also warns home owners about the liability of letting someone you don't know stay in your home.
 
"You also have the guests who are inviting other guests potentially onto your property. So you may have any number of people that you are not really familiar with or know who could trip and fall, or get injured," Mishefske explains.
 
My Dwelling runs background checks before renting out homes to Harley Fest goers. However there are still hundreds of homes up for rent by their owners and listed on Craigslist. There is no guarantee those home owners will look into the criminal history of their potential renters. 
 
To find out if you or your neighbor is allowed to put a home up for rent enter your address here on the city's website. This link will take you to your neighborhood's zoning ordinances. Also, if you have questions or need to file a complaint call the Complaint Hotline (414) 286-2268.