EAST LANSING, Mich. — Two bills moving through the state House and Senate would stop local governments from banning short-term rentals like those leased through Airbnb or VRBO.
East Lansing officials are very much opposed.
East Lansing has 21 overlay districts, each with different rules when it comes to rental properties including short-term and vacation rentals.
“Basically what these bills are attempting to do is take a one-size-fits all approach to short-term rentals in the state of Michigan,” said East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens.
If House bill 4722 or Senate bill 446 pass, short-term rental rules would become the same in every district and East Lansing would need to allow them.
Stephens said these bills are putting every city in the same boat.
“We deal with our own unique rental challenges," Stephens said. “East Lansing is different than Traverse City, it’s different than Detroit, right? So we have to treat issues differently.”
The bills define short-term rentals as housing available for no more than 30 days. Stephens, said with the ease of renting these properties, he's worried they'll turn into month-by-month leases, effectively allowing rental properties where the city doesn't currently permit them.
“In a situation like this, you could get on Airbnb and you could say, 'All right I’m renting this home out for 30 days and you can just, you know, re-up your 30 days," Stephens said. "It’s a month-to-month lease and you don’t have to do re-inspection. You don’t have to get a license with the city.”
Stephens said allowing property owners to bypass important steps in the renting process like inspections could be dangerous.
“We have older homes in the city," he said. "Folks that are renting in the area, we want to make sure that those homes are safe for people there, so we do regular inspections. Another city might not necessarily need to do that because they don’t have the influx of rental properties.”
There were 50 active short-term rentals in East Lansing during the first quarter of 2021, according to data from the website airdna.co.
With more, Stephens worries that property values would skyrocket, benefiting a few property owners but making the city less affordable for everyone else.
“When you introduce a market of you can always Airbnb your property, you know, you’re going to see those prices increase and it’s going to be a lot more difficult for people to move in and live in the city,” said Stephens.
The state legislators who introduced the bills did not respond to requests for comment.
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