New Buffalo Says No Vacation Lodging or Short Term Rentals During Pandemic

Fueled by complaints about out of state visitors utilizing short term rental properties in Harbor Country for vacations, large parties and beyond, the City of New Buffalo is making it clear that “Vacation lodging or short-term vacation rentals do not qualify as essential businesses, and should not accept vacation guests until after the Stay Home order is lifted.” They punctuate their response to the situation by saying flatly: “This is not a suggestion; it is the law.”

New Buffalo City Manager David Richards and his Police Chief Rich Killips have dispatched a letter to all managers and owners of New Buffalo lodging and short-term rental properties clarifying the rules.

They write, “We have begun fielding complaints from residents concerned over non-residents and out-of-state visitors coming to New Buffalo to vacation, which is a clear violation of Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order except as ‘necessary to sustain or protect life.’ Lodging operators who provide ‘food, shelter and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, individuals who need assistance as a result of this emergency and people who have disabilities’ are allowed to remain open under the governor’s executive order.”

The letter says it is clear when it comes to what is, and what is not, acceptable when it comes to lodging, and points out that vacation lodging or short-term vacation rentals do not qualify as essential businesses and should not accept vacation guests until after the Stay Home order is lifted.

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Richards and Killips say that police officers have broken up parties and large gatherings, written reports and provided warnings. They add, “This is to officially notify you that the New Buffalo Police Department is empowered to take additional steps against those breaking the law, including fines or arrests,” and note, “These will be imposed on property owners or managers responsible for accepting reservations and allowing vacationers to visit. If the situation warrants, the City of New Buffalo may consider additional steps to enforce the Governor’s Order.”

The letter concludes, “We recognize the short-term financial difficulty this is causing you — and for so many others in our community. We are asking you to follow the law and do the right thing for New Buffalo. By doing so, we can get through this crisis as quickly as possible and welcome guests once again in our beautiful community.”