By Mike Kruzman /

One local township is exploring a new ordinance that would help control residents renting out their home to short-stay visitors.

The Marion Township Board of Trustees has raised the question as to whether certain homeowners are precluded from engaging in short-term rentals of their home under the existing township zoning ordinance. According to a letter drafted by a township attorney, “short-term” refers to usage for less than 28 days, like the majority of Airbnb rentals. Although there is no explicit language in the existing ordinance to prohibit that sort of rental activity, the letter states there are provisions which imply that undertakings of that sort do not qualify as an acceptable residential use of a lot. Marion Township Supervisor Bob Hanvey said this started with input about one residence.

The attorney’s letter states that the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 2017, in two different cases, that short-term rentals violate “residential use” and non-commercial use deed restrictions in a subdivision. Homeowners utilizing a dwelling and a lot as a non-qualifying short-term rental use in a zoned residential district could be considered in violation of the township zoning ordinance and be subject to fines and/or litigation. The Board’s legal counsel recommended the township make changes to the ordinance that may provide explicit prohibitions to short-term rental usage pursuant to applicable and relevant circumstances, rather than implied violations of the existing zoning ordinance. Hanvey said they are planning on writing a new ordinance and sending it to legal counsel for review.

A complete copy of the attorney’s letter to the Marion Board can be found their August 27th Board Packet. View the packet here: