Last updated: September 15, 2023

Short-Term Rental Report: The State of Michigan STRs in 2023

Here's a look at how some Michigan jurisdictions are taking steps to address STRs in their communities.
Posted by GovOS Team
Detroit City Skyline at dusk as viewed from Windsor, Ontario, Canada

This article is part of an ongoing series of reports on the state of short-term rentals in the U.S. You can view our other reports here.

Jurisdictions throughout the U.S. have presented wide-ranging responses to continued increases in short-term rental (STR) properties. For many, it is essential to identify a solution that helps balance the needs of all community stakeholders.

In Michigan, where STRs are generally recognized as short-term stays of less than 30 days, some jurisdictions have implemented local ordinances to provide clear guidelines for operating an STR. Take a look at how these 10 Michigan cities and counties are managing STRs.

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids is situated on the Grand River to the east of Lake Michigan. The city requires all STR operators to obtain a license to help strike a balance between normal residential properties and those only available on a short-term basis. The city limits the licenses to two hundred per year and each license covers one property, which the owners must live on in order to rent out a room.

Charlevoix County

Known as “Charlevoix the Beautiful” Charlevoix County also has a licensing requirement in place. Licenses must be renewed annually and they come with a number of stipulations including having a contact person available to respond to noise, nuisance, or disturbances at the property. The Charlevoix Township Short-Term Rental Ordinance from 2020 lays out the regulations in detail.

Wayne County

Incorporating parts of Detroit, one of the largest cities in the midwest, Wayne County is considered one of the most profitable places to rent out a property for any length. This goes some way to explaining why there were emergency federal assistance grants in recent years and a $20 million aid package to help residents who had severe rent arrears. Within Detroit, an STR may not be rented out for more than 90 days per calendar year. This makes sense in a city trying to adjust and balance the competing needs of many different socio-economic groups.

Oakland County

The County of Oakland, which had a population of 1.27 million people in 2021, takes in some of Detroit’s northern suburbs and has its county seat at Pontiac. It is the second-most populous county in Michigan and is the largest U.S. county without a city with over 100,000 residents. There has been much discussion in recent years of the rules surrounding STRs in Oakland County, but there are proposals to limit them to areas that are outside of residential areas. This would mean that much-needed regeneration work would be incentivized in some other areas.

A Guide to Short-Term Rentals for Local Governments

Ann Arbor

Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is a quintessential college town. Anyone who wants to operate a short-term rental in Ann Arbor has to apply for a license. There are specific areas of the city set aside for non-principal residences, meaning that STRs are not located in what would typically be considered residential areas. This measure helps minimize any disturbances, as does the rule that there must be someone who can be held accountable for guests’ behavior. There are also lengthy rules that govern the quality of properties that are rentable. This means there are more safety policies in place for those who rent short-term.

Traverse City

Another municipality that has opted for a licensing system, Traverse City allows STRs to operate outside of residential zones, including downtown and commercial areas. STRs are only permitted in residential zones when they are in a room within the landlord’s house. There is also a question of tourist tax: STRs may have to charge those who take up their rentals. At the time of writing, this issue is making its way through the courts.

South Haven

A small city of around 4,400 people, South Haven is perched on the edge of Lake Michigan. Long sandy beaches and port and harbor facilities have earned it the nickname the Catskills of the Midwest, with tourists aplenty coming from all over. This also means it is an ideal place for those looking to set up short-term rentals, and the local regulations on this are clear. All STRs must be licensed and renewed annually, and there is a 1:4 rental cap. This means that for every STR, there must be four standard residences.

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is an idyllic spot where pedestrians, cyclists, and even horse-drawn carts use the island’s M-185 road. It is the only state highway in the U.S. where motorized vehicles are not allowed. Any rental property on the island needs to be licensed, whether short- or long-term, and an inspection is required. In common with other locations, Mackinac Island requires that an owner or property manager live locally to assist in resolving any problems at the property.

A view of the marina at Mackinac Island in Michigan


This unique city celebrates its Dutch heritage in a number of ways with a centuries-old windmill and even a tulip festival—both prominent symbols of the Netherlands or Holland. Short-term rentals in Holland must be licensed and may be allowed in residential areas where the owner lives on the property. For owners that live off-site, there are specific zoning areas where STRs are allowed. An exception is made during tulip time when anyone can offer a short-term rental without a compliance certificate for ten days or fewer.

Grand Haven

Ideally situated on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven is a city of just under 11,000 people. All rental units, including short-term rentals, must be registered on an annual basis and are subject to a fee of $140 per unit. There are also restrictions on where short-term rentals are allowed in the city.

Finding the Right Solution for STR Management

Using the right solution can make STR management simple and straightforward for communities. From data collection and licensing to tax filing and complaint management, the all-in-one GovOS STR solution can help support your community’s STR management efforts. Talk to one of our experts today to learn more.

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