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Proposed bills would make housing stability for those struggling to afford rent costs in Michigan even more difficult

June 9, 2021

It is bad enough that Michigan will not allow rent control at the state or municipal level, now there is legislation in both the House and the Senate that further takes away the ability of city governments to regulate the length of rental agreements.

The business publication MiBiz, recently reported:

A last-minute substitute to House Bill 4722 — sponsored by state Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Springport — was given to stakeholders minutes before Tuesday’s House Commerce and Tourism Committee meeting. The committee quickly advanced the bill without providing time to review the new version, critics said.

The language of the proposed legislation states in part, “short-term rental” means the rental of a single-family residence, a dwelling unit in a 1-to-4–family house, or any unit or group of units in a condominium, for terms of not more than 30 consecutive days.”

The Senate version of the legislation (Senate Bill 446) essentially has the same language as the house version.

If this legislation is adopted, it will have three major impacts. First, these bills would further diminish local government’s ability to regulate key aspects of the market economy, in this case the housing market. Second, this legislation would not only allow, it would likely expand an AirBnB boom, which would be great for tourism, but not for those who are struggling to find truly affordable housing in Michigan. Third, adopting this proposed legislation would put renters in an even more precarious situation and create even more housing instability for those who are struggling to afford increased rental costs. 

Not surprising, the Michigan Realtors Association is endorsing this legislation and makes it a point to write about it in their Legislative News section.

Both Rep. Sara Lightner and Sen. Aric Nesbitt, the two legislators who introduced these bills, has the Michigan Association of Realtors PAC in their top 10 of campaign contributors, based on data from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. In fact, 8 of the 15 sponsors of the House version of the bill are also major recipients of the Michigan Association of Realtors PAC, as do 5 of the 7 co-sponsors of the Senate version of the bill. In the end, one should always follow the money when it comes to public policy. 

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