Detroit Rolls Back Anti-Airbnb Law

Anders Hagstrom | Justice Reporter

Detroit lawmakers have rolled back the city’s de-facto ban on Airbnb, after many property owners and would-be renters received cease and desist letters.

Updates to the city’s zoning laws made it illegal for residents to rent out individual rooms in a home or apartment, the Detroit Metro Times reported Friday, but have now rescinded the law. While the city government had started delivering cease and desist letters to offenders, many city leaders were unaware of the changes. The one-sentence law change was buried in a 200-page update meant to clean up the city’s zoning language, according to MT.

“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,” the new law reads.

The change traces back to the city council, but it’s unknown which member ordered the alteration. One member claimed to be unaware of the changes, while the others have either declined to comment or been unresponsive, according to MT.

Airbnb was less than enthused about the change, as it was also recently forced to remove half of its listings in San Fransisco under similar circumstances. Airbnb claims hosts in Detroit rented to 47,000 guests in 2017, generating $5.2 million for the city.

“We’re very disappointed by this turn of events. Airbnb has served as an economic engine for middle class Detroiters, many of whom rely on the supplemental income to stay in their homes,” spokesman Ben Breit told MT. “We hope that the city listens to our host community and permits home sharing in these residential zones.”

Those hopes were fulfilled Friday.

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