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Northern Michigan residents, rental property owners react to Airbnb party ban

Jacob Bentzinger

A permanent ban on parties. That’s what Airbnb says it’s imposing on renters, ahead of the busy 4th of July holiday weekend.

In northern Michigan, vacation rentals have increased in recent years, along with noise and traffic, upsetting some full-time residents.

Ray Draeger owns some short-term rentals near Spider Lake in East Bay Township. He said Airbnb’s ban was a necessary step.

“But let’s get real. This is a platform. They are not a policing activity. They can’t do much. All they can do is ban a person, possibly give some money to the hosts, or give some money to the guests. But none of that is satisfactory in terms of a neighborhood,” he said.

Draeger said it’s up to individual hosts to make sure their guests behave.

Full-time residents in northern Michigan are skeptical it will help.

Stacy Slater has lived in her East Bay Township home for about a decade. She said Airbnb rentals have changed the character of her neighborhood.

“The noise. The traffic,” she said.

She said she feels trapped in her home on the weekends — limos and party buses, noisy vacationers while she’s trying to work from home — and she wants to move. Airbnb said it’s working with competitor Vrbo to crack down on people who repeatedly throw loud parties at the houses they rent. And it has set up a section on its website for neighbors to report problems nearby.

“Who’s going to enforce it, right?" said Slater. Airbnb said its temporary ban on parties, put into place about two years ago, resulted in a 37% drop in party complaints in Michigan.