In 1988, Traverse City adopted an ordinance regulating what they called "Tourist Homes." These are homes where the owners are present and guests rent rooms for less than 30 days at a time. The current ordinance includes many protective rules that make sense and that we'd like to keep, but just two that we want to update to suit today's world.
Some Basic Rules in TC's Current Tourist Home Ordinance
Must be the homeowner's Primary Residence.
Can rent up to 3 bedrooms with up to 3 guests per room.
Unlimited number of guest nights allowed per year.
Ample off-street/legal parking is required depending on the number of guests.
Home must be registered with the city (first year is $100, then $70/year). License is good for 1 year. Existing license holders can keep their license as long as they want (thereby preventing new participants).
Homeowner agrees to have health, safety, fire inspections when requested.
All TC noise, nuisance, parking, pet ordinances apply.
Each Tourist Home must be at least 1,000 feet from any other licensed Tourist Home. (1)
Hosts must be on site while guests are visiting. (2)
Let's Update Just Two Things
1) Remove distance limits on homes eligible for a Tourist Home license. This allows any TC homeowner to host guests if they'd like to. The current 1,000-foot radius is arbitrary and unfair. Today, license holders can renew licenses year after year whether or not they rent their property, preventing their neighbors from legally participating. We believe that any homeowner who wants to rent out their Primary Residence should be allowed; not just a random lucky few.
2) Allow supervised, unhosted stays. This is when the owner is away while a local designated supervisor(a neighbor) is available to address any concerns from guests or neighbors. If you've traveled using Airbnb or VRBO, etc. and stayed in a home without the owner present, you've enjoyed an unhosted stay. This is the most common Home Sharing option. We believe that the homeowner and their guests are capable of deciding whether or not the host will be present during the guest's stays and should be provided both options.
It's Time to Modernize Our Ordinance
TC's ordinance is 30 years old now, and times have changed with the advent of the Sharing Economy and sites like Airbnb, VRBO, etc. In TC we have continually rising taxes, high property values, and stagnant salaries. Our group, Share TC, advocates for all resident homeowners to be allowed to rent for periods of less than 30 days part or all of their single primary residence. We're regular people who have a lot of different reasons for wanting to share our homes and supplement our income this way.
**Note: We're advocating for these changes in residential neighborhoods. Rentals of less than 30 days ARE allowed in TC's commercial zones and some condo associations. If you have the means to purchase one or more of these commercial properties there are no rules requiring registration with the city, distance barriers, number of guests or rooms, etc. We simply want to be able to rent out our Primary Residences as we've outlined above.
Are you interested in renting part or all of your Primary Residence for short stays?
Join us at the City Commission meetings, write emails or letters to commissioners, meet with them in person, and tell your story. Better yet, contact us and get involved with the movement too. More voices make a bigger impact.
DID YOU KNOW?
As of fall 2018, there are only 22 Tourist Home licenses in the city with very little room for additional homes to participate. That's about 0.3% of city homes eligible to participate.
DID YOU KNOW?
In the 30 years since Tourist Home Licenses have been issued in TC, there has been only one documented complaint directed toward a Tourist Home.