South Haven to property owners: Vacation rentals not allowed under order


SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of South Haven has sent letters to rental properties saying vacation rentals are not allowed under Michigan’s stay-at-home order.

“Any type of vacation rental right now is not acceptable,” South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette said.

City leaders believe the language of the order is very clear, while many property owners disagree.

“Until the executive order is lifted, that will be the city’s interpretation and we’ll be taking steps to make sure those rules are followed,” Dissette said.

Rental companies declined to speak to News 8 on camera but say the city’s interpretation of the order is unfair, since hotels, which pose a greater risk of spreading the virus, can stay open.

Beachwalk Rentals spokesperson Gerald Webb released a statement saying his company is fully complying with the order, despite disagreements on the city’s interpretation.

“With a standalone residence there does not need to be any interaction between guests and staff as access to the home is controlled with internet-based door locks,” Webb wrote, in part.

The company says rentals could help when people are trying to keep distance from loved ones.

“Beachwalk has received several inquiries for guests who are seeking shelter for purposes of quarantining themselves from other members of a household,” Webb wrote.

>>Inside Coronavirus and social distancing FAQ

South Haven has started ticketing property owners but the city manager says he is hopeful the majority will comply.

“They could be facing tickets that could either be issued through our health department or through our county prosecutor’s office. Our police department is very actively reviewing property usage and notifying potential renters ‘Hey, you are not supposed to be here,’” Dissette said.

Scott Reinert, the executive director of the South Haven Van Buren County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, says overall lodging bookings are down.

“Most of our members are reporting a 90 percent or so drop in bookings for April and May, and so everyone has seen the impact for sure,” Reinert said.

Reinert hopes the measures being taken now will help salvage the crucial summer months.

“The last thing that we would want is for our health care system here, which is very small, to be inundated with any kind of major outbreak,” Reinert said.

The decision to not allow vacation rentals could be challenged in court.

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