2017-11-30 / Views

Are rental owners slow to apply, or wary of being regulated?

Could Suttons Bay Township be headed toward a regulation nightmare?

Possibly. We reported last week that the owners of 32 properties outside of the village and in the township have applied for permits that would allow them to operate short-term rentals.

Years ago that might be considered an alarmingly high number, but township officials have estimated that about 100 short-term rentals were available last summer. In February the township enacted a Zoning Ordinance requiring the permit, and put a cap of 150 permits within its jurisdiction in an effort to limit the effect of rentals on residential neighborhoods.

Whether that will work is anyone’s guess. From our reading of the police blotter and anecdotal conversations, neighbors have been fairly tolerant of inconvenience caused by having a new, vacationing neighbor every week who does not have to get up to work.

But our unofficial tolerance gauge says it may be ready to tip, so we understand the desire to regulate.

But how?

Suttons Bay Township hired an out-of-state firm as its Big Brother to monitor the internet for unlicensed property owners trying to pick up an extra buck or two — actually, quite a bit of money — by renting to vacationers.

What happens if rental owners stick a big thumbs down, or maybe another digit up, at the thought of having the township regulate use of their own homes?

They might respond better if someone they know or who is living on the Peninsula stops by for a chat about following zoning law. But how cooperative will they be when talking to an out-of-state employee of a company called “Host Compliance” that’s prying into what they might consider a private transaction?

We’re wary of a municipality hiring a national company to handle what should be local zoning enforcement.

Perhaps the two-thirds of rental owners who haven’t picked up a license are too busy Christmas shopping to apply for a license.

Or perhaps they aren’t in the mood to be regulated.

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