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City of Detroit severely limits short-term residential rentals

UPDATE: Multiple local media outlets are reporting that City officials will not immediately enforce the zoning ordinance pending a review by the City Law Department. We’ll be sure to provide an update once we hear more.


In a surprising move, the city of Detroit has adopted a new zoning ordinance that bans short-term residential rentals in areas zoned R-1 (Single-Family Residential) and R-2 (Two-Family Residential) Districts.

This means listing a property for short-term rent through popular websites like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway is now prohibited in the R-1 and R-2 zoning districts.

The new zoning ordinance provides as follows:


Section 61-12-392. Prohibited uses and activities.

Use of a dwelling to accommodate paid overnight guests is prohibited as a home occupation; notwithstanding this regulation, public accommodations, including bed and breakfast inns outside the R1 and R2 Districts, are permitted as provided in Sec. 61-12-46 of this Code.


The ordinance went into effect on February 6. It was apparently approved by both the Planning Commission and City Council in 2017 as part of a 200-page general amendment to the Detroit Zoning Ordinance.

According to a Curbed Detroit article, property owners have already begun receiving notices from City officials directing them to discontinue using their R-1 and R-2 properties asĀ  short-term rentals effective immediately.

This move is unusual given the fact that just last year Mayor Mike Duggan publicly commended short-term rentals and the positive impact they have on Detroiters and tourism. Also, separate bills are currently pending in both the Michigan House and Senate that would prohibit municipalities from banning or otherwise restricting short-term residential rentals.


If you are a Detroit property owner and have questions about this zoning change, feel free to reach out to the land use attorneys at Dalton & Tomich.

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