Report: Voters Prefer Local Control Over Short-term Rental Properties

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) released the results of a statewide survey on June 29 showing a strong preference for retaining local control of short-term rental properties and a desire for a balanced solution to the massive spike in these properties, listed on apps such as Airbnb.
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A new MRLA report shows Michigan voters strongly prefer local regulation over short-term rental properties on apps like Airbnb as opposed to state regulation. // Stock Photo
A new MRLA report shows Michigan voters strongly prefer local regulation over short-term rental properties on apps like Airbnb as opposed to state regulation. // Stock Photo

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) released the results of a statewide survey on June 29 showing a strong preference for retaining local control of short-term rental properties and a desire for a balanced solution to the massive spike in these properties, listed on apps such as Airbnb.

“There is an awful lot that seems to divide voters in Michigan these days,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA. “How best to deal with the growing number of Airbnb properties in our communities clearly isn’t one of them. Voters across the political spectrum care deeply about preserving the safety and integrity of their own neighborhoods and Michigan’s elected leaders would be well served to heed that sentiment.”

The survey was conducted by Virginia-based TargetPoint Consulting from June 24-27 with 400 registered voter participants. The margin of error is 4.9 percent.

The survey showed 89 percent of voters are concerned that taking away local control of short-term rentals would result in increased crime, housing costs, and fewer homes available for full-time residents. As a result, 79 percent say the local city, township, or county government should set rules and regulations for these properties.

The popular solution, supported by 72 percent of voters, wants a regulatory playing field between short-term rentals and hotels that doesn’t allow an outright ban on the properties, but sees that the local government would control them.

Local governments are seen as better equipped to handle the problem as opposed to the state government, according to 82 percent of the voters, and 70 percent oppose legislation that would relegate control to the state government or higher.

“The rapid growth of short-term rentals in recent years has been substantially driven not by homeowners, but by corporations that operate several properties much like hotels,” says Winslow. “But unlike hotels, they are not held to the same rigorous safety standards and in most instances do not contribute to the regional tourism infrastructure from which they benefit.

“Through this survey, Michiganders have stated emphatically that it is time for policy makers to come together to forge a solution that preserves local control, fosters safety and security in our communities and creates regulatory parity so that hotels and short terms rentals may compete on a more level playing field.”

Founded in 1921, the MRLA represents more than 5,000 Michigan foodservice and lodging establishments, an industry that employs more than 595,000 people in the state and creates nearly $40 billion in annual sales.

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