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Opinion No. 5233

October 12, 1977


Ordinance providing for licensing of duplexes


Home rule city ordinance licensing duplexes


Home rule city ordinance licensing duplexes

A home rule city may in its charter and city code provide for regulation of residential housing and for the licensure of duplex rental units.

Honorable Thomas M. Holcomb

State Representative

58th District

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan 48901

You have requested my opinion upon a question which may be restated as follows:

May the city of East Lansing provide for the licensing of duplexes under its charter and city code?

Section 4i of the home rule cities act, 1909 PA 279, Sec. 4i; MCLA 117.4i; MSA 5.2082, provides in pertinent part:

'Each city may in its charter provide:

(3) For the establishment of districts or zones within which the use of land and structures, the height, the area, the size and location of buildings and required open spaces for light and ventilation of such buildings and the density of population may be regulated by ordinance. . . .

'(4) For the regulation of trades, occupations and amusements within its boundaries, not inconsistent with state and federal laws, and for the prohibition of such trades, occupations and amusements as are detrimental to the health, morals or welfare of its inhabitants.

(9) For the enforcement of all such local, police, sanitary and other regulations as are not in conflict with the general laws. . . .'

It has been held that the renting of residential property is a business that may be subject to licensure. City of Englewood v B. B. Wright, 364 P2d 569 (Colo, 1961); Conventry Hills, Inc v Tax Review Board of the City of Philadelphia, 263 A2d 348 (Pa, 1970). Sections 5.1, 5.5 and 6.5 of the charter of the city of East Lansing respectively authorize the adoption of ordinances that provide for the public peace and health and for the safety of persons and property, for the issuance of licenses as prescribed by ordinance, and for the adoption of technical codes as prescribed by city ordinance. Pursuant to this authority, the city has adopted housing regulations at chapter 101 of the East Lansing City Code. Section 8.91 declares the public purposes of the regulations as follows:

'. . . [T]he purpose of this chapter is to protect, preserve, and promote the physical and mental health and social well-being of the people, to prevent and control overcrowding, and the incidence of communicable diseases, to regulate privately and publicly owned dwellings for the purpose of maintaining adequate sanitation and public health, and to protect the safety of the people and to promote the general welfare by legislation which shall be applicable to all dwellings now in existence or hereafter constructed. It is hereby further declared that the purpose of this chapter is to insure that the quality of housing is adequate for protection of public health, safety and general welfare, including: establishment of minimum standards for basic equipment and facilities for light, ventilation, and thermal conditions, for safety from fire and accidents, for the use and location and amount of space for human occupancy, and for an adequate level of maintenance; determination of the responsibilities of owners, operators and occupants of dwellings; regulation of rental housing; and provision for the administration and enforcement thereof.'

Regulations to preserve such public purposes are authorized by section 4i of the home rule cities act, supra.

Article XI of the East Lansing City Code provides for the regulation of rental housing and precludes the rental of any dwelling, dwelling unit, or rooming unit not in compliance with chapter 101. Section 8.210. Section 8.211 requires the issuance of a rental license. Chapter 101, article X of the East Lansing City Code provides for inspection of dwellings, dwelling units, etc. Dwellings are defined in section 8.95(14), and classes of dwellings are defined in section 8.95(15); these classes include one-family, two-family and multiple dwellings. Provisions calling for the inspection and certification of classes of dwellings are also contained in the housing law of Michigan, 1917 PA 167, MCLA 125.401 et seq; MSA 5.2271 et seq. (1)

It is therefore my opinion that the city of East Lansing does have the authority under the home rule cities act and the city charter to provide for the regulation of residential housing and for the licensing of dwellings, including duplex rental units.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

(1) The provisions of chapter 101 of the East Lansing City Code are not inconsistent with the state law on the subject and, it may be noted, the city of East Lansing has not opted to come under the state housing law.