At the September 8, 2014 meeting, Nancy Mustaikis led off the public comment period with a novel idea (remember when Ludington citizens could do this for up to 5 minutes at the beginning of the meeting?) to the councilors of considering what she called vacation rentals.  She introduced the topic by lamenting the fate of many of our city's houses being run-down-- a topic our leaders often seem to lament during the Rental Inspection Ordinance (RIO) discussions and only made worse by making landlords devote more money away from repairs in its passage.

The solution that Mustaikis proposed was to change the restrictive zoning law created in 1996 (see ARTICLE 500.19 - TRANSIENT RENTALS) which disallowed short-term rentals (28 days or less) in the city limits of property except within a hotel or motel.  She noted that even the Planning Commission at that time could see no detrimental effects of allowing these, to the contrary they noted that conditions that existed at some regular rental properties would not be allowed to exist at vacation rentals.  She noted several economic benefits and other ways it would improve Ludington, check her out in the video:

September 8, 2014 Ludington City Council from Mason County District Library on Vimeo.

The Ludington City Council never took any action towards investigating what benefits might be reaped with a review and repeal of short term rental zoning law; as noted, they have only made it more difficult for those who wish to rent out their property.  There looks to be no initiative anywhere in the city government to change that propensity anytime soon.

Enter the state government, and a couple of bills that may change the landscape for short-term rentals.  House Bill 4503 and Senate Bill 329 would amend the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act and define short-term rentals as a residential use of a property, not a commercial use. If it becomes law, it would mean short-term rentals would be permitted in all residential zones of a community.

The move appears to counter recent initiatives of cities throughout Michigan who, like Ludington, want to rule out short-term rentals in their domain through zoning laws.  After you affirm that such zoning law is a direct assault on the rights of private property owners, the various positive points that Nancy Mustaikis referred to in 2014 become even more apparent as benefits to the community.  More incentive for homeowners to make their property look its best, more income for homeowners to reinvest in the upkeep of their property, more income to the city as residential neighborhoods become more presentable (especially during the tourist season) and more sustainable.

But the new bills are facing some stiff opposition.  That opposition doesn't seem to come from state legislators, nor does it come from individuals; assuredly the most strident of the proponents are individuals wanting to maximize their own individual liberty.  The opposition comes from the local officials who will have their power over their neighbors kept in check by the legislation.

The foremost zoning and planning group in the state, the MI Association of Planning, came out against the measures saying "Removing the ability of local government to regulate Short Term Rentals is bad policy and we are asking our members to contact both the bill sponsors".  They do not even attempt to justify why, since their reason is that their commissions lose a lot of power and potential funding they receive because of their mostly nuisance regulations.

Although this has flew under the radar of most municipalities thus far, the City of St Joseph has taken up a resolution against both measures, citing a “detrimental effect,” of the proposed legislation, saying they have “through hard experience learned from residents the importance of thoughtful consideration on the impact of introduction of transient guests to residential neighborhoods.”  Anecdotes and unqualified hearsay seems to be all the proof they need to work vigorously against short-term rentals, as they have been.

In similar fashion, the Grand Haven Tribune reported their city manager decrying the bills, noting:  “It’s an extreme overreach of the state Legislature.  It’s an assault on home rule authority.  The best decisions about a community and its zoning rules are made by the people who live there.  I think most of us are OK that we have zoning that preserves neighborhoods as neighborhoods."

One could easily believe a citizen coming before the Grand Haven Planning Commission and making the same argument regarding onerous zoning laws on their own personal livelihood.  "It's an extreme overreach of the city council/planning commission.  It's an assault on my civil rights.  The best decisions about my house and what goes on inside my house are made by the person who owns that house.  I think most of us are OK that we have civil rights that preserve our personal property rights." 

There is no mention of local governments in the US Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  The power of cities, counties and townships have always been subordinate to the state, and to the rights of the people by dint of the Tenth Amendment:  "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." 

The success of these bills may be negated due to spirited lobbying by the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Association of Planning trying to say their regulations on short term rentals are beneficial rather than unduly restrictive.   Excessive regulation by local authorities is akin to the tyranny of King George III which led to the American Revolution and the founding of our country after brave individuals asserted their own authority.  Help your legislators understand why you are for these bills.

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Is it true or not that the condo owners can rent their condo's out as a short term rentals?

The transient rental ordinance linked to above says that's the case:  "The transient rentals by the day, week or similar periods of less than twenty-eight days (28) shall only be permitted in a hotel or motel as defined in this Ordinance, except the transient rental of a condominium unit approved as part of a Planned Unit Development or as a Special Land Use may be permitted when specifically requested as part of the application."

Therefore, the city says you can time-share your residential condo unit, but you can't do the same with your residential house.  It doesn't seem consistent, nor does it seem to support the arguments usually given by planning commissioners as to why these zoning regulations need to be put in place. 

So in other words the residential taxpayers are getting screwed again subsidizing the condo owners.


Seems simple enough, just change the name of your residence from house or apartment to CONDO as others have done 

I don't believe they will let you do that stump.  But judging what I see happening around town buy a larger size travel trailer of fifth wheeler, park it in the street by your residence, run power out with an extension cord and rent it out during the summer.

At $300 for a Friday, Saturday and Sunday rental for the 12 weeks of summer or so and you should be on your way to earning a  nice supplement income.

I think I could fit 3 of them around my place.

Pump them out and a Tuesday, change the linen and towels  and good for another weekend.

Of course special events and Holiday weekends would be additional.

Shinblind , I think you might be a little low on your renting your fifth wheel. Check out VRBO  {that's Vacation Rental By Owner ]  Ludington,mi.   As for condo apartments, the guy who renovated the apartments above the old reliable  building changed them to condos and I believe the apartments above the downtown visitor center are also called condos. There might be more. I don't know why the city or neighborhoods  are afraid of these people who come to enjoy our city, and pay big bucks to stay. Their not trashy people. Trashy people don't have money and they wreck your property. As I stated above, check out VRBO Luington , mi.


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