Judge rules no vacancy at lakeshore development


Ruth Skidmore. Courtesy McShane & Bowie

If you’re thinking about making a buck by renting out your summer home on an ongoing basis, you better check your deed restrictions and local zoning ordinance before posting an ad.

A Michigan judge recently ruled short-term home rentals in a lakeshore community violate the community’s deed restrictions and zoning ordinance, calling on the violators to cease and desist the rental activity.

Ruth Skidmore, an attorney with McShane & Bowie in Grand Rapids, represented 20 plaintiffs from the Sunset Shores development in Casco Township, south of Saugatuck, against four of their neighbors who were renting their homes on a “nearly ongoing basis,” according to the firm.

The plaintiffs said the ongoing rentals were creating a ““non-stop party-like atmosphere” in the neighborhood.

Skidmore said Judge Kevin Cronin, of the 48th Judicial Circuit Court for Allegan County, ruled against the defendants on two independent grounds.

The court found that the defendants’ rentals were considered commercial in nature and violated the neighborhood deed restrictions.

The court also held that short-term rental activity violated Casco Township’s zoning ordinance. The Sunset Shores development is a low-density residential zone.

“The zoned district we are located in is for single-family residential uses, and the court ruled that this type of activity doesn’t constitute a single-family residential use,” Skidmore said.

She noted that the zoning piece of the ruling has larger implications beyond the Sunset Shores community.

“We hope this ruling will serve as precedent to protect the rights of property owners in similar communities across Michigan,” she said.

Skidmore said anyone considering renting out a home on a regular basis should consult their community’s zoning ordinance beforehand to ensure it won’t be in violation of the ordinance.

“Some communities have addressed this under their ordinances,” Skidmore said. “But there are a great number of townships with standard zoning ordinances that don’t specifically address it.”

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