MICHIGAN – Local municipal leaders held a virtual news conference today advocating for new legislation that balances the rights of short-term rental property owners with those of long-term neighborhood residents. State lawmakers have advanced legislation, Senate Bill 446 and House Bill 4722, that would overturn local regulations and give blanket approval for homeowners to convert their homes to short-term vacation rentals.
Newly introduced House Bill 4985 maintains locally created short-term rental laws while protecting the personal property rights of both the long-term resident and the short-term rental owner. Other compromise legislation is also in the early stages of being developed and is expected to be introduced in the coming days or weeks.
“Lawmakers have been rushing to pass legislation that would have overturned all of the work local leaders have done to carefully craft policies that balance the needs of long-term residents with those of vacationers and short-term rental owners,” said League CEO Dan Gilmartin. “For those lawmakers supporting bills that only protect short-term rental owners, we ask them to answer these questions: Are you concerned about the supply of affordable housing in your community? What percentage of a neighborhood’s housing stock should be short term rentals – 50 percent, 75 percent, 100 percent? And what are you doing to protect neighborhoods from being hollowed out?”
Grand Rapids City Manager and League Board Member Mark Washington stated that the current bills being promoted by real estate agents, SB 446 and HB 4722, would eliminate how communities address the concerns residents have raised over the growth of short-term rental properties.
“Short-term rentals are increasingly operating as commercial enterprises where homes in residential neighborhoods are being converted into year-round mini-hotels,” said Washington. “In addition to losing dwelling units, the quality of life can be impacted too with less parking, more traffic, more noise and nuisance complaints coming from these properties. The whole reason we have residential zoning is to help keep quiet residential neighborhoods from being overrun with disruptive commercial activity. Legislation like House Bill 4985 protects our need to create reasonable rules for how these short-term rental properties operate, and it needs to be given full consideration before any statewide law is passed governing short-term rentals.”
Proponents of Senate Bill 446 and House Bill 4722 argue the bills are intended to prevent local governments from banning short-term rentals in their entirety. However, the League has not found a single city in the state that has enacted such a ban.
Tourist destination communities are among those that have found it necessary to adopt local ordinances guiding how short-term rentals operate. Frankenmuth, for example, developed a local ordinance with input from business owners, residents and short-term rental owners.
“Frankenmuth is a tourist destination, so we are very supportive of short-term rentals,” said Frankenmuth City Manager Bridget Smith. “That’s why after taking months to gather input, we ended up with a local short-term rental law that allows an uncapped number of short-term rentals in our downtown while adopting reasonable limits of how many operate in residential neighborhoods. Any statewide law must allow communities like ours to address the unique circumstances a local community faces because our needs are not the same as everywhere else.”
Marquette is another popular destination community that adopted a local ordinance balancing the needs of permanent residents with those of tourists and short-term rental owners. Marquette Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill said a local short-term rental law was needed to ensure housing is available for the city’s workers.
“Housing is the number one issue in our community. People will accept a job at the university or hospital and then can’t move here because they can’t find a place to live. Taking away our ability to regulate the number of short-term rentals in our neighborhoods will make the housing crisis even worse,” said Hill. “We need legislation like House Bill 4985 to protect our ability to create local laws that meet our housing needs while making clear that short-term rentals are allowed in this state.”
Michigan Municipal League members and Michigan residents are encouraged to learn more about proposed short-term rental legislation by visiting the League’s Short-Term Rental Resource Page. urge them to vote down any legislation that diminishes how communities address short-term rentals based on their own local needs.
For additional information, contact the League’s Matt Bach, assistant director of strategic communications, at (810) 874-1073 (cell) and [email protected].
Michigan Municipal Leagueis dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.