Proposed State Legislation Could Significantly Impact Short-Term Rental Industry In Michigan
In what many local municipal officials across the state of Michigan characterize as an overreach on the part of the state, the proposed bills regarding short-term rentals before the Michigan House and Senate would, if passed, curb restrictions on short-term rentals, allowing them in all areas zoned for residential use in a community.
Douglas City officials discussed the issue during Monday’s meeting.
“This (the similarly worded House Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 329) eliminates local control—our ability to regulate our zoning on matters related to housing (particularly, short-term rentals),” said Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere.
“We are a community with a lot of seasonal rental housing and we don’t regulate them, unnecessarily so, as much as other communities,” noted LeFevere. “But, we want people to be safe, whether that is being able to perform fire inspections or enforce zoning codes.”
The number of local rental units has dramatically increased and there is a need to maintain local regulation, not undermine it, pointed out Douglas City Council Member Pat Lion, who has co-owned the Rosemont Inn, a resort B&B, for many years.
“There was about 100 when we started (Rosemont Inn, more than decades ago). Now there are about 500 short-term rentals,” said Lion.
She said it was through local zoning the city has “teeth to protect the health and well-being of resident and visitors.”
On the flip side of the argument, realtors and other proponents contend that there is an ongoing state-wide effort on the part of local municipalities to intrude on the rights of private property owners and undermine the value of their property.
The bills are being driven by the Michigan Realtors Association, which assisted in writing the bills, introduced this spring.
In fact, critics point out that State Rep. Jason Sheppard, (R-Temperance) and Sen. Joe Hune, (R-Gregory) are due-paying members of the association.
Less regulation means more problems, especially for residential neighborhoods which are already suffering the negative effects of an excessive number of short-term rentals, indicates the Michigan Municipal League.
The League—which provides varied services to member communities, including advocacy and education—has come out strongly against the proposed legislation:
“In many places across the state, short-term rentals are taking over once vibrant residential neighborhoods and turning them into areas transient in nature that go dark part of the year. This is having a detrimental impact on quality of life.
“An overabundance of short-term rentals can potentially remove affordable homes and housing units off the market leading to decreased enrollment in neighborhood schools.
“If enacted, this legislation will undo regulations municipalities have put in place to negate these negative impacts and prohibit other communities from regulating in the future.”
LeFevere said the city could draft and adopt a resolution urging opposition, but he told council the most effective action is to call the community’s state representatives, including State Rep. Mary Whiteford, (R-Casco Township) and State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker, (R-Lawton).