Detroit authorities are beginning to enforce its new Airbnb ban due to city’s new zoning rules. According to Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s local government has started sending cease and desist letters to Airbnb-participating home owners, particularly those that rent out units in the R1 and R2 (single- and double-family properties) residential zones.
Detroit last November approved an update to the city’s zoning code. This made is illegal to rent out homes and rooms in those residential zones, in less it was a secondary property. Metro Times says that a lot of officials thought the update was just a minor rewrite to “clean up ordinance language,” but as it turns out, it’s particularly targeting Airbnb hosts. It doesn’t address rentals other than those that accept paid overnight guests, all of which is hidden within 200 pages of text. Here’s the part that concerns:
“Use of a dwelling to accommodate paid overnight guests is prohibited as a home occupation; notwithstanding this regulation, public accommodations, including bed and breakfast inns outside the R1 and R2 Districts, are permitted as provided in Sec. 61-12-46 of this Code” (subsection of 61-12-392).”
Several officials were apparently unaware of that part when the updated rules were being pushed, it’s not secret that hotels and home owners along the waterfront have been pushing back against Airbnb in the city. Jamie Murphy, a city planner at the Detroit Planning Commission (which wrote the new updated zoning rules), told Metro Times that these changes “were in response to some resident complaints and were generally a way to begin regulating short term rentals while a more comprehensive ordinance is written.”
According to Airbnb spokesperson Ben Brett, the company has a rather big presence in Detroit. There are 430 hosts in the city, most of rent out residential homes in the R1 and R2 zones. In 2017, those hosts served 47,000 guests and generated $5.2 million in income overall. Airbnb says that it’s disappointed in how things have turned out in the area, due to the fact that they serve as an “economic engine for middle class Detroiter.”