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Michigan Court of Appeals Rules that a Short-Term Rental is not a Residential Single-Family Use for Zoning Purposes

Landlord-Tenant Law Real Estate

The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a published case in the area of short-term rental regulation.  In Reaume v Township of Spring Lake, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed that a short-term rental of a residential property is a commercial use of the property and is not a residential single-family use for zoning purposes.

Reaume involved a property owner seasonally renting out her home.  The property was zoned R-1 Low Density Residential zoning.  In 2016, Spring Lake Township adopted an ordinance expressly prohibiting short-term rentals in any R-1 Low Density Residential zone.  The Michigan Court of Appeals analyzed the text of the zoning ordinance and the various definitions within it.  Ultimately, the Court decided that the definition of single-family dwelling under the zoning ordinance excluded temporary or transient rental occupations and that Reaume’s short-term rentals were unlawful non-conforming use.

The Reaume decision is controlling law in Michigan unless overruled by subsequent case law or legislation.  The case lays a foundation for the proposition that short-term rentals are not residential single-family uses under Michigan zoning ordinances.  In addition, the Court ruled that a municipality’s failure to enforce a zoning ordinance does not constitute approval or waiver of an otherwise illegal use.  If you have issues relating to short-term rentals in your community, please contact the real estate attorneys at Shinners & Cook, P.C. to assist you with resolving your issues.