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Detroit bans many Airbnb rentals, surprising hosts and the company

The ban, approved last year, quietly went into effect this week. Detroiters can no longer host Airbnb guests in many residential properties.

Detroit Cityscapes and City Views

Detroit has notified some residents they can no longer host guests through Airbnb. 

Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Airbnb hosts in Detroit got a surprise this week, as rules prohibiting many of them from renting out rooms came into effect.

Notices went out to hosts this week, according to a report from Curbed Detroit, and many of them said they are just now hearing about changes to the city zoning ordinance that the city council approved last year.

"Use of a dwelling to accommodate paid overnight guests is prohibited as a home occupation," the zoning ordinance now says.

The ordinance changed the definition of a "bed and breakfast inn" under city law and applies to residents in single- and double-family residences in certain parts of the city. The new rule is part of a document, more than 200 pages long, that updated the city's rules on land use.

According to the Detroit Metro News, some city officials and a city council member were unaware of the changes.

Airbnb learned of the change as its hosts began getting notices from the city. 

"We're very disappointed by this turn of events," Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in a statement. "Airbnb has served as an economic engine for middle-class Detroiters, many of whom rely on the supplemental income to stay in their homes. We hope that the city listens to our host community and permits home sharing in these residential zones."

Detroit has 430 active Airbnb hosts, and 47,000 people stayed in Detroit properties listed on Airbnb in 2017, Breit said, and the typical host earned $6,600 annually.