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Short-term rental bans across Michigan threaten rental-heavy cities

November 17, 2023
<p>Landmark Apartments and Newman Lofts as seen from M.A.C. Avenue, photographed on Aug. 12, 2019. </p>

Landmark Apartments and Newman Lofts as seen from M.A.C. Avenue, photographed on Aug. 12, 2019.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

Throughout cities within Michigan and even across the United States, cities are banning short-term rentals for living spaces. 

Major cities such as Detroit, Ann Arbor and Mackinaw City have enacted this rental ban at a varying spectrum. 

In Detroit, the short-term rental property must be owned by a resident who primarily lives at that said property. There is also a limit as to how many days the resident can rent their property on a short-term basis per year

Ann Arbor has a slightly different approach: a ban on short-term rentals only in residential areas. In other words, any short-term rental outlets, like Airbnbs, are strictly prohibited in neighborhood spaces.

Similar to Ann Arbor, Mackinaw City also bans short-term rentals in the surrounding neighborhoods. However, short-term rentals are permitted if the occupant stays for more than thirty days.

This growing trend affects both landlords and those who stay on the property, in terms of commerce

In terms of the City of East Lansing, the short-term rental ban is yet to be enacted.

“Currently, we do not have any proposed ordinances that would change our current rental regulations," housing and university relations administrator Annette Irwin said.

Being occupied primarily by students that attend MSU, the short-term rental ban within the city would cause issues in regard to housing across the city limits.

Freshmen and sophomores attending MSU are required to live in on-campus dorms unless granted alternate accommodations. By the end of fall, it’s common for second year students to start seeking rental properties for their junior year lodging, usually having to rent on one-year leases at the most as well as school year leases that would only span nine months. 

“At city council, we tend to hear from homeowners," East Lansing council member Dana Watson said. "It should be known that renters can also stay connected and reach out to people as far as getting their voice and perspectives heard.” 

Watson said she is aware the East Lansing has a large amount of renters

“It’s fair and makes sense that we find the feedback, and are receptive to the feedback from renter’s experiences as we make these decisions," Watson said. "It should not just be led by the homeowners.”

Though East Lansing hasn’t adopted any new ordinances for rentals, many students will face difficulty if a short-term rental ban is introduced in the future.

Watson said alternatives may have to be introduced in order to successfully provide housing to students not living within university housing

“I think there has to be (alternatives)," Watson said. “It’s a real disconnect if it’s happening especially in communities where we do have renters for under a year, as this is a university town. Conversations need to be had and renters should definitely not be put in a place where they’re panicking.”

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