MI Restaurant & Lodging Assoc Backs New Legislation to Regulate Short-Term Rentals

In a bid to find solutions for the seemingly never-ending issues over short-term rentals in communities from Harbor Country to St. Joe, South Haven and elsewhere across the Great Lakes State, the Michigan Legislature is taking up a 10-bill package to help regulate the future. It didn’t take long for the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association — MRLA — to get on board with the proposed legislation.

House Bills 4554 through 4563, introduced into the State House of Representatives today, attempt to address the growing concerns with largely unregulated expansions in short-term rental properties across the state, and the MRLA has immediately thrown strong support behind the 10-bill package.

Justin Winslow is President & CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association. He says, “The hospitality industry, like so many others, is changing rapidly amid a generation of technological disruption,” and argues, “As the lines between hotels and short-term rentals begin to blur, it is increasingly important that we enact a fair and responsive regulatory structure that ensures the safety of all of our guests, regardless of where they stay.”

Currently, short term rentals like those commonly found on sites such as “Airbnb” and “VRBO” are not held to the same health and safety standards as traditional hotels. In addition, short-term rentals are not required to pay use and excise taxes required of hotel and motel room stays despite the fact that 80-percent of all Airbnb stays occur at “whole-unit” locations where the owner is not present. The MRLA contends, “In other words, 4 out of 5 short-term rentals are operated as de facto hotels while avoiding any of the financial or regulatory burden required of a traditional hotel.”

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The trade association says the new legislation offers a comprehensive solution, creating a level playing field that allows short-term rentals to thrive while establishing a necessary balance that maintains the integrity of Michigan’s vibrant local communities.

Winslow contends, “The tourism industry is fundamental to Michigan’s economic future,” and adds, “It is clear that short-term rentals will play a very real role in that future, which is why it is imperative that we come together to ensure that future is one that is safe for everyone and doesn’t destroy the fabric of our authentic neighborhoods.”

The MRLA is joined by the Michigan Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus and the Michigan Municipal League in supporting House Bills 4554 – 4563.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association is the recognized leader of Michigan’s hospitality industry, providing essential services to the food-service and lodging community. Founded in 1921 as the Michigan Restaurant Association and now known as the MRLA, the Association represents over 5,000 Michigan food-service and lodging establishments. The industry plays an integral role in Michigan’s economy, employing more than 595,000 people and creating nearly $40 billion in annual sales.