Ottawa County township set to restrict short-term rentals – Michigan Capitol Confidential

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Park Township discusses banning unlicensed short-term home rentals and limiting the number of rentals

A long-standing ban on short-term rentals in Ottawa County’s Park Township may soon be replaced by a new ordinance providing for a lottery for a limited number of licenses.

Michigan Capitol Confidential previously reported that the township enacted an ordinance on February 7, 1974 prohibiting the practice of short-term rental of residential homes. However, local law has not been enforced for almost 50 years. The township’s planning commission has been discussing a new ordinance in recent months, which would require approval from township administrators.

Proponents say the new draft ordinance will strike a balance between full-time residents who dislike the practice and residents who use it for supplemental income.

If the ordinance were enacted as it currently stands, people wishing to rent out their property would need a license, with a limited number of licenses available. Owners who rent without it expose themselves to a municipal civil offence, liable to penalties and fines. The township would choose who gets a license through a lottery system, and those who rent their property now would not be grandfathered into the system.

Mike Leong, who bought a property with the intention of living there part-time and renting it out for the short term, fears the order will cause him hardship.

“If my rental is prohibited, it dramatically threatens my family financially,” he told Michigan Capitol Confidential. “We bought into this township precisely because it was known to allow short-term rentals, and we bought and furnished it with the majority of our savings, which is now at risk.”

Leong, who has a family of six, said his realtor told him the practice was allowed in the township and he bought the house for that reason. He doesn’t live in the area and his family plans to use the property to visit family, paying for it with short-term rentals.

There are currently more than 365 short-term rentals in operation in Park Township, according to Leong. He says that even if his family wins the licensing lottery, the proposed order’s settlements would reduce his expected income and increase his expenses.

Park Township Superintendent Howard Fink and Township Supervisor Jim Gerard did not respond to a request for comment.

The township’s planning commission proposes to authorize 352 licenses – 126 commercial licenses and 126 limited rental licenses – each with its own set of regulations. Among the rules is a requirement that tenants stay at least six days. The draft ordinance places restrictions on the number of adults who can sleep in a room and calls for one parking space for each bedroom in the house. Landlords should post the name and phone number of a local agent on a first floor window, so that they are visible to the public. The agent must be available 24 hours a day.

According to the minutes of the September 2 meeting, members of the planning commission discussed the amount of fines, the possibility of transferring licenses and the need to serve a rental property with a landline.

House Bill 4722, introduced in the Michigan Legislature by Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Springport, would prohibit local governments from banning short-term rentals. It allows for local regulations on advertising, traffic, noise, nuisances, carrying capacity, inspections, fees and taxes. It passed the House on Oct. 27, according to Michiganvotes.org.

The bill is not slated for a vote in the state Senate. Governor Gretchen Whitmer did not respond to a request for comment. Sen. Mike Shirkey, Michigan Senate Majority Leader, did not respond to a request for comment.

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