Ottawa County Township moves toward restricting short-term rentals
Park Township discusses banning unlicensed short-term rentals of homes, limiting number of rentals
A long-dormant ban on short-term rentals in Ottawa County’s Park Township may soon be replaced with a new ordinance that features a lottery for a limited number of licenses.
Michigan Capitol Confidential previously reported that the township enacted an ordinance Feb. 7, 1974, to ban the practice of short-term renting of residential homes. The local law has not been enforced in almost 50 years, however. The township planning commission has been discussing a new ordinance in recent months, which would need the approval of township trustees.
The new draft ordinance, advocates say, will strike a balance between full-time residents who do not like the practice and residents who use it for additional income.
If the ordinance were enacted as currently written, people who wish to rent their property would need a license, with a limited number of licenses available. Owners who rent without one could be charged with a municipal civil infraction, punishable by 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 intending to live in it part-time and rent it out on a short-term basis, is concerned the ordinance would impose a hardship on him.
“If my rental is banned, it radically threatens my family financially,” he told Michigan Capitol Confidential. “We bought in this township specifically since it was readily known to allow short-term rentals, and we bought and furnished it with the majority of our life savings, which is now under threat.”
Leong, who has a family of six, said his real estate agent told him that the practice was allowed in the township, and he bought the house for that reason. He does not live in the area, and his family plans to use the property to visit family, paying for it through short-term rentals.
There are currently over 365 short-term rentals operating in Park Township, according to Leong. He says even if his family wins the license lottery, the regulations of the proposed ordinance would reduce his expected income and increase his expenses.
Howard Fink, Park Township manager, and Jim Gerard, township supervisor, did not respond to a request for comment.
The township planning commission proposes allowing 352 licenses — 126 business licenses and 126 limited rental licenses — each with its set of regulations. Among the rules is a requirement that renters stay a minimum of six days. The draft ordinance calls for restrictions on how many adults can sleep in a room and calls for one parking space for every bedroom in the house. Property owners would need to post the name and phone number of a local agent on a first-floor window, so it would be visible to the public. The agent would have to be available 24 hours a day.
According to Sept. 2 meeting minutes, members of the the planning commission have discussed how large fines should be, whether licenses can be transferred, and whether a rental property would have to be served by 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, dwelling capacity, inspections, fees and taxes. It was passed in the House Oct. 27, according to Michiganvotes.org.
The bill is not scheduled for a vote in the state Senate. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not respond to a request for comment. Sen. Mike Shirkey, majority floor leader for the Michigan Senate, did not respond to a request for comment.
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.