Michigan township’s ban on short-term rentals brings lawsuit
Park Township’s enforcement of long-neglected ban began in October. Litigation soon followed.
“See you in court” may be the motto of some Ottawa County residents who have been battling township officials for over a year.
Property owners have rented out their homes on a short-term basis for years, as Michigan Capitol Confidential first reported in April 2022, but in December of that year, township officials voted to enforce what had been an inactive ban on the practice. They started enforcement actions in October 2023, prompting a group of residents to file suit on Oct. 5.
Approximately 250 residential homes were being used as rentals on a short-term basis before the ban. When officials considered the ban, homeowners offered various alternatives, such as a permit system, a limit on the number of rentals, and ordinances related to health, safety and noise complaints. Officials rejected those proposals, choosing a ban instead.
Over 100 homeowners created a nonprofit organization, Park Township Neighbors, to oppose the ban. The group alleges in its lawsuit that officials violated laws requiring public notice and comment. Officials, they say, have tried to cover their missteps.
The lawsuit asks Michigan’s 20th Circuit Court to strike down the ban and to enjoin township officials from enforcing the ban while the lawsuit is still active.
Jeremy Allen, president of Park Township Neighbors, says the township tried, unsuccessful, to pay its legal fees with an insurance claim. He faults officials for using taxpayer funds to defend the ban.
The township has been enforcing the ban, Allen said, adding that it sent someone to various residential properties to record the license plate numbers of the cars located there. He also told CapCon that this person had contacted the owners of those vehicles to ask if they were renting the homes.
CapCon asked Howard Fink, township manager, to comment. Fink declined comment, citing the pending litigation.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.