The fight against the Airbnb bill continues as the Senate prepares to vote

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A long-drafted bill to protect Airbnb-style rentals is about to become law. But it is not without strong opposition.

The fight over the bill has been going on for more than a year and a half since it was tabled last April. He narrowly passed the Michigan House by a 55-47 vote in October 2021.

Last week, a state Senate panel moved the bill forward. Now he is finally heading to the full Senate for a vote expected sometime after the November election.

Legislation, HB 4722, would prevent local governments from adopting or enforcing rules that block Airbnbs or restrict them to certain areas.

Local leaders in areas such as Grand Haven and Holland have spoken out against the proposal.

“My community is very concerned about this,” Holland City manager Keith Van Beek said.

Van Beek said he wanted to maintain Holland’s “historic right” to find “the right solutions” for his city.

“This bill is problematic because it really is a hammer that takes away all local control from communities to come up with reasonable and logical solutions,” he added.

Currently, Holland only allows 25 Airbnbs in residential areas. They should be 500 feet apart. Van Beek said this was done to protect “the character” of neighborhoods, keeping them family-friendly.

“Traditionally, you look at families living there year-round with kids going to schools,” Van Beek said. “Neighbors who know each other and picnic together. We have limited short-term commercial uses in these neighborhoods to ensure we maintain the character of our neighborhoods.

The city is allowing more Airbnb-style rentals downtown, where there are more hotels.

But Van Beek said with a “housing crisis” in the area, they want to keep homes open to long-term residents, not Airbnb visitors.

“We want to make sure we still have this housing stock primarily for those who want to live, work and play in our neighborhoods and in our city,” the city manager said. “Any housing taken off the market for year-round commercial short-term rental use is one less home available to a family.”

Airbnb listings in Michigan accounted for less than 0.4% of the state’s total housing stock in 2021, according to the company.

Airbnb expressed support for the legislation in a statement to News 8.

“Michigan families rely on home sharing to make ends meet and welcome visitors whose spending supports the state’s businesses and tourism economy,” said Vincent Frillici, Airbnb’s regional director of public policy. , in a press release. “Airbnb will continue to work with leaders across the state on balanced rules that strengthen the broader tourism economy, provide certainty and clarity for hosts, and address community concerns.”

Under the law, although local governments can no longer ban short-term rentals, they could limit Airbnb owners to just two properties in the area.

State Rep. Luke Meerman, R-Coopersville, told News 8 he voted for the bill to protect private property rights.

“It really tries to allow people with second homes to do a bit of Airbnb,” Meerman said. “It’s not supposed to allow companies to come in and buy 10 houses, 15 houses and do Airbnb.”

Meerman said cities and towns would still retain significant control.

“They can cite people for noise ordinances,” Meerman said. “They can quote people for parking. They can fine the owner of the Airbnb, who I think should probably go and make sure they take the deposit from the people who were renting the Airbnb. It would stop the parties and the real inconveniences.

The Republican said if issues arise, such as late night parties, cities have the capacity to handle them.

“What local leaders lack is their real ability to control the Airbnbs problem, and I think we left them a lot of tools to do that,” Meerman said. “I hope they do. I don’t want annoying Airbnb more than anyone else.”

Meerman also said he would expect Airbnb landlords to pass the fines on to tenants.

“In my mind, that would stop a lot of problem people pretty quickly if they lost $400 or $500,” Meerman said.

Airbnb has banned parties since August 2020. The company said that in Michigan, there has been a 37% year-over-year drop in party reports since.

According to the bill, Airbnb-style rentals cannot make up more than 30% of homes in a community. Van Beek said that was too much.

“If someone stops and thinks about that, does it pass the smell test?” said Van Beek. “When you add up all the homes in our traditional single-family home developments in Holland, that’s a massive amount of short-term rentals. I don’t call that a compromise solution.

The Rental Property Owners Association is also supportive. The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is against the measure.

Brian Westrin, Michigan Realtors’ general counsel, said it “protects the right to rent from zoning abuses, whether short-term or long-term.”

“This does not eliminate tenant or landlord liability,” Westrin said in a statement via Airbnb. “If HB 4722 becomes law, local governments will still have plenty of tools to respect private property rights, while holding bad actors accountable.”

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