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Realtors Excited and Concerned About Short Term Rental Bill

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A new bill, heading to the Senate, has some realtors concerned and others excited.

House Bill 4722 changes the way communities can zone short term rentals.

Kara Gelven, a realtor and short term rental (STR) owner in Traverse City, disagrees with the bill.

“The reason I’m against it is because of how it’s going to affect the community as a whole,” says Gelven. “People come to Traverse City for the small businesses, for the restaurants, for the wineries, all that people have really gotten out of their time of living here. And if we don’t have housing for those people, it’s not going to become a tourist destination anymore.”

The bill prohibits towns and townships from banning short term rentals.

It also includes regulations such as limiting the number of STRs to two per owner, and giving local governments the option to limit the number but not below 30 percent of current residential housing.

“I think there is a place for short term rentals in every community,” says Gelven. “What that looks like is up to the community, but I don’t think that every community needs them, in some sense, in that maybe that looks like bringing the number down of what the minimum percentage is in allowing townships just to figure that out and allowing them in every community, but not at 30%.”

AspireNorth Realtors have been studying the issue of short term rentals and housing inventory, regionally, for awhile.

They’ve even polled their several hundred members to determine how realtors feel about the regulations and the ban on banning STRS in local communities.

“We actually did a survey in July of 2020 of our membership and over 80% of our members supported reasonable regulation of short term rentals or no regulation of short term rentals,” says Connor Miller, AspireNorth Realtors Government Affairs Director. “Then we had under 18 percent of our members who actually said there should be strict regulation or no allowance of short term rentals.”

Miller says in their 1o county region, the number of short term rentals is under 3 percent of all the housing available.

“That is an interesting statistic to see that there is that concern about a proliferation of short term rentals,” says Miller.

He also says there are only 19 communities out of 103 in the region that would actually have to alter their current policies to meet this new standard.

“Our position at at a local level and all the way up to a state level is to prevent a ban. The ban on short term rentals, a lot of the nuances that have been added to the bill from my understanding are a result of that negotiating of finding that right fit balance,” says Miller. “The number of short term rentals is a lot less than the need we have for inventory. But we think that the issue we’re not working on is the issue of inventory and that the short term rental argument is actually taking away from.”

Gelven approves of the cap on the number of STRs one person can own.
Her concern is about keeping housing accessible and not allowing outside developers to take over the housing market. The emphasis is on keeping the housing conversation local.

“Even though I am a short term rental owner and a realtor, the way we run ours is like a sustainable way,” says Gelven. “I agree with short term rentals done legally, sustainably and with a focus on local. So with me, owning money goes back into the city like I fill my properties with artwork from a city like the coffee is locally roasted. I try to do as much local as possible.”