Traverse City Rolls Out New Rules for People Who Rent out Vacation Homes

Anyone who rents out their vacation home in Traverse City will have to play by new rules.

Vacation homeowners will have to deal with more red tape when it comes to renting out their property starting this summer.

The Traverse City board of commissioners passed an ordinance that will require vacation home owners to get a license, a fire department inspection, and post exit signs, fire escape routes and noise ordinances.

These measures are intended to keep tourists safe and to help the city keep track of rental properties through this regulation.

Trevor Tkach is the CEO of Traverse City Tourism and said at Monday night’s meeting that the updated city ordinance one more way for commissioners to make sure the tourism industry in town has longevity.

The community’s reputation grows every year and it brings increasing tourists and more people interested in renting homes. As Mayor Jim Curruthers points out, the tourism industry has an effect on local housing.

“We’re a vacation town and the vacation opportunities is a lot of our economy but we’re trying to be a four season town for young professionals,” said Carruthers.

And while booming tourism is good for the economy, it can also have a negative impact on other parts of the community.

When homes are taken up by tourists, there’s less room for locals. And even less room for those with low income.

“The unintended consequence of the tourism industry is that homelessness increases based on rental prices and availability,” said Ryan Hannon, who run’s Goodwill Inn’s homelessness outreach program. “Sometimes, that creates a jam in finding housing. We need to have a balance so we don’t drive rental prices up even higher.”

Hannon wants to see more balance in city ordinances so that those experiencing homelessness are able to afford rental units as well. 20 percent of the homeless population in Traverse City rents out vacation property in the off season, but becomes displaced in the summertime when prices are jacked up.

Traverse City’s new rental ordinances go into effect July 1. Fire inspections will cost $200 the first time, and $150 in subsequent years.