GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Homeowners in Grand Rapids have expressed their concerns over an existing ordinance that prevents them from renting out rooms inside their homes without proper licensing.
The controversy began this month when the city made it illegal to advertise a room rental without the proper approval.
“I don’t know why it’s illegal,” said homeowner, Lisa Wieringa. “I don’t see it any different than any other home based business. Instead of sharing jewelry or other rubber stamps I share a home. I welcome people into my home and they rent a room from me.”
Wieringa, a Grand Rapids homeowner, said she’s been using the website Airbnb.com for the past four years to rent out the rooms inside her home, which is something the city considers a bed and breakfast.
“I’m not a bed and b&b. I don’t have a sing out front. I don’t have a website and I don’t advertise except through the website,” Wieringa said.
Suzanne Schulz, planning director for the city disagrees.
“They are a bed and breakfast,” Schulz said. “They are renting for financial gain to strangers. If someone wants to rent a room out in their house all they have to do is come to the city for approval.”
Schulz said to rent out a room homeowners, like Wieringa, will need to obtain a license, which is a $291 annual fee. They’ll also have to purchase a special land permit, which carries a one time fee of $1,750.
“The special land use designation for my home to do that process is really cumbersome, really expensive,” Wieringa said. “I just won’t do it. I’ll just stop hosting, I guess.”
Commissioners are going to hear homeowners complaints during a meeting on Tuesday.