Some South Haven residents and businessowners in support of short-term rentals

NOW: Some South Haven residents and businessowners in support of short-term rentals

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich - With warm weather in full swing, many people are considering renting in the Michiana area for the summer, but this has been a major point of contention for residents, especially in the town of South Haven.

Some residents there say the short-term rental market is out of control, with too many neighborhoods turning into ghost towns for much of the year.

But some property owners and businesses love the concept, calling it good for the local economy.

According to a study from Robey Analytics, short-term renters spent between $25 to $35.5 million in South Haven in 2022.

Those houses, rented out for profit, also provide employment to over 400 workers during peak season.

One resident of over 20 years, Khristina Burfield, is an inspector for Carmen's Cleaning Services, and said how beneficial short-term rentals are for their company.

“Every weekend she’s got somebody else calling into work, she’s cleaning Airbnb's, rental houses, Airbnb's whatever they throw at her,” said Burfield.

While some complain about lack of real neighbors, and too many strangers, resident Gerald Webb said short-term rentals gave him the opportunity to meet new people and make friends.

“We get these visitors that come to see us and become residents themselves or come back year after year after year, we become friends with them,” he said.

The owner of Lake Michigan Linen Services, Ashley Greer, felt that there are a lot of misconceptions about short-term rentals, specifically with the number of short-term rentals in the area.

“We reached the cap in this community, there can't be anymore short-term rentals.” she said. “It is what it is, this is the landscape that we’re in."

That number is limited to 775 across the city.

Greer also said there are strict rules that short-term rentals must abide by, like noise ordinances and inspection protocols.

Jen Sistrunk, the Executive Director of the South Haven Visitor's Bureau and a lifelong South Haven resident, said the taxes short-term renters pay provides other benefits.

“We donate to several causes here in town and those dollars are 100% visitors' dollars, and like I said, they come in and they stay in our facilities, they pay their due diligence, they pay their 5% just like they do in the hotels, and so they also get reinvested in the community,” said Sistrunk.

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