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Detroit Suspends Airbnb Enforcement Pending Review Of New Zoning Law

Detroit Suspends Airbnb Enforcement Pending Review Of New Zoning Law

Detroiters awoke Friday to reports the city had enacted a new zoning ordinance that bans the online hospitality marketplace Airbnb from operating in the districts where the majority of its hosts exist.

Enforcement Suspended As City Conducts Legal Review 

The new zoning ordinance went through the city's Planning Commission back in 2017, but just went into effect this week.

Detroit Airbnb hosts have started receiving notices that the city has outlawed the service outside the R1 and R2 Districts, according to  Curbed Detroit.

The news took many locals by surprise. The city has been home to more than 400 active Airbnb hosts, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has even appeared in an Airbnb video.

David Bell, the city's building director, said in a Friday morning statement that Detroiters have been able to rent out a room in their home for more than 100 years, and the ordinance does not appear to be designed to end the practice. The city's law department has been asked to review the question and give guidance to the building department, he said. 

"Media reports that enforcement efforts have begun under this ordinance are false," Bell said. "Over the last two years there have been a few enforcement actions that have involved Airbnb properties, but those tickets have arisen from other complaints or violations related to those properties." 

Homeowners will not be ticketed for room rentals until the legal review is complete, Bell said. 

Detroit isn't the first city to clamp down on home-sharing. In 2016, New York banned advertisement of "short-term" rentals of less than 30 days on Airbnb, and Santa Monica requires hosts to live on the property during the renter's stay and collect an occupancy tax.

The Company's Response

Airbnb issued a statement: "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. We hope that the city listens to our host community and permits home sharing in these residential zones."

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