Short Term Rentals - Long Term Problems

By Partner Russell Klemm

Partner Russell Klemm

 

Most Florida Community Associations have adopted covenants, restrictions or rules and regulations which limit or regulate the rental of the properties within the Community. Often, the rental and leasing restrictions will mandate a minimum rental or lease term (usually at least six months or one year) for the property.  An integral part of the rental process, for a Community Association, is the requirement that potential renters, through the property owner, submit a “Lease/Rental Application” to the Association. The application process allows the Board of Directors of the Association to know who the proposed renter is (and how many renters are applying!) and, where permitted, to accept or reject the rental applicant. Where the goal of the Association is to limit or prohibit “transient” renters (rentals on a daily or weekly basis), recent on-line services and trends in booking private residences for hotel-like accommodations have frustrated Community Associations who wish to limit short-term rentals. On-line services such as “Airbnb” allow a property owner to transform their residence to a vacation destination, with the potential for a constant stream of “guests” coming and going (and using the Association’s amenities!).

The biggest challenge for a Community Association in attempting to control transient rentals, is just detecting the rental activity. The property owner may never give any notice to the Association that the property is listed as a transient rental, and may not go through the rental application process, especially where the owner knows short term rentals are not permitted. A Community Association has limited options in attempting to prevent unauthorized transient rentals.

 The most effective deterrent is to control the use of the Association’s amenities, so that only owners, legitimate guests and authorized renters can make use of the Amenities ( the “vacation destination” may be of less value to a renter who cannot use the pool, bike path, etc.,). Additionally, if the Association is a gated community, the gate-access procedures can be tightened or revised to exclude unauthorized renters (this can, however, present real challenges- how does the Association distinguish between weekend guests, and weekend-renters?).

Finally, the Association can become more proactive. The Association can review the various on-line rental services. If, in searching for short-term rentals in the community, it is discovered that owners in the community are listing their properties for short-term rentals, the Community Association should send (written) notice to that owner (or owners) that short-term rentals are prohibited, and the owner may be in violation of the declaration, covenants or rules and regulations. The problem of deterring unauthorized short-term rentals will only grow as more on-line services, such as Airbnb, are introduced. The Community Association’s best bet in attempting to deter this trend is to increased vigilance and by frequently reminding the Association’s prohibitions or restrictions on short-term rentals.