With the growing popularity of peer-to-peer short-term rental services like Airbnb and VRBO.com, HOA boards face a number of new, rental-related challenges. On one side are homeowners who want to generate income through their property. On the other side are the potentially adverse impact on neighbors, common spaces, and community enjoyment. These issues are solvable with explicit community association management guidelines that regulate rentals.
Weigh the pros and cons of short term rentals.
Before deciding on the most appropriate course of action, the Board of an HOA should closely examine the positive and negative effects that rentals might have on the community. Here are some of the topline benefits and drawbacks.
- Rentals create more income for homeowners
- Homeowners are more likely to maintain/upgrade their property
- Rentals can provide community differentiation in competitive market
- Rentals generate additional tax revenue, support the local economy
- Safety & security concerns
- Noise infractions
- Crowded common areas
- Property damage
- Potential property value decrease (due to above)
Solicit feedback from homeowners to uncover expectations.
In addition to brainstorming the potential pitfalls, your community association management board should survey homeowners to discover their attitudes and concerns. Your property association management company can offer guidance about which questions to ask and how best to administer the survey. Once you have a greater understanding of the complete picture, your HOA can start to craft policies that will garner support from the most residents.
Remind homeowners that they are responsible for activities that occur in their homes.
Whether occupied by an owner or tenant, every homeowner is legally responsible for the activities that occur on their property. This might include minor disturbances like noise violations or parking infractions, or more serious issues such as property damage from fire, flood or negligence. On the far end of the spectrum, homeowners who rent their properties expose themselves and their communities to illegal activities that can potentially result in significant legal and financial consequences.
HOAs have the power to establish their own guidelines.
If short-term rentals are permitted by local law, individual HOAs have the option to craft language in their CC&Rs that establish rules for short-term rental operations or to prohibit the practice entirely. Many HOA governing documents were put in place before the rise in short-term rental popularity. It’s worth it for HOAs to explicitly address rental issues and take steps to commit these rules to writing as soon as possible, whether that means writing new guidelines or updating existing language. Consult an attorney before amending any governing documents to ensure that proposed updates comply with all federal, state and local laws.
Enlist the help of your property association management company.
Community association management companies can offer expertise on the many issues that communities face when managing short-term rentals. By enlisting their help, your HOA can gain the benefit of their years of experience managing all types of rental scenarios. Contact your property manager to discuss the most effective ways to disseminate information to residents. Ask your management company to conduct training sessions to educate board members and share advice about how to handle common issues. Finally, if you discover that homeowners are violating your HOA’s rental policy, your property manager can issue warnings and coordinate communications regarding fines or other penalties.
Short-term property rentals can be a benefit for some communities and a liability for others. Ultimately, it is up to each board member to act in the community’s best interest. No matter what your community decides regarding short-term rentals, failure to comply with community guidelines can result in stress, complications, and potential liability. Take the time to generate clear language that leaves no room for question.
How does your community handle short-term rentals? Share your thoughts and opinions below.