July 20, 2017

In the age of Airbnb, Michigan beach towns try to balance renters and residents

Stock Photo - Waving flag with Airbnb logo. Editorial 3D rendering
Copyright: moovstock / 123RF Stock Photo

Grand Haven City Council voted to limit the number of short-term rentals in certain neighborhoods. This time of year a lot of people start thinking about summer vacations. If you’re like many Michiganders, when you’re planning a week or two off, you might find a cottage or a beach house to rent online. Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway are a few of the most popular short-term rental websites.

However, those relaxing summer getaways are causing stress in many of Michigan’s tourist destinations. Local residents say the stream of renters is ruining their neighborhoods. But people who rent out their properties say they have a right to make some income and they’re helping the local economy.

One of the communities dealing with the issue is Grand Haven, which has a year-round population of nearly 11,000 and sees a huge spike in the summer. City Manager Pat McGinnis says there are about 250 short-term rental properties in Grand Haven, not including owner-occupied properties with individual rooms for rent.

On April 24, the city council approved an ordinance that added to existing rules about which districts can have short-term rentals. The ordinance does not reduce the number of rentals. People who already rent out their properties […]

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