Many association homeowners are jumping on board the Airbnb phenomenon. Especially those folks who want to capitalize on sporting events, spring break, tourism or just plain bringing in some extra cash into the budget.
To Allow, or Not to Allow Short-term Rentals
Some community associations allow exceptions for special events and choose to turn a blind eye in order to keep the folks happy. But, problems arise when documents are already in force or have never been addressed and abuse becomes prevalent.
Municipalities can set up restrictions on short term rentals and restrictions can vary widely. For instance, states that impose tourism room rental taxes are hopping in early to make sure they get their piece of the pie. With that said, associations are now implementing their own policies to address this trend. Some associations have governing documents and bylaws that allow for short-term rentals in their community.
Unique Considerations for Short-term Rentals
For those considering the allowance of short-term rentals, associations need to address some unique considerations.
It is important to address noise and nuisance disruptions. It may simply take a letter with a warning but oftentimes the guests are the offenders and are gone before any action can be taken. Complaints need to be addressed and homeowners held accountable to ensure infractions are kept to a minimum.
Fines are another option – we have addressed fining in previous articles and videos that may be helpful for associations. Because Airbnb and many other rental sites offer extensive tools for hosts to vet their prospective tenants, a well-established fine policy against unit owners will help to motivate them to do everything that they possibly can to avoid disruptive guests.
For associations with governing documents that prohibit these nontraditional rentals altogether, the implementation of clear fining policy is essential. This will typically entail the adoption of rules in which all of the fees and fines are clearly outlined.
Not everyone will follow the rules and many homeowners are getting pretty crafty avoiding detection by calling the renter a family member or guest.
It is hard to keep everyone honest, but a little due diligence can go a long way.
Creative Compliance Tactics
Associations might consider enhanced vigilance and in some cases, guest-screening measures may be necessary. Some associations are developing and implementing new registration forms for use with guests and tenants along with written assurances and non-compensation statements indicating that they are not paying for their stays.
If you suspect a homeowner is violating your rules a quick address check on VRBO or Airbnb will confirm and show the dates the unit has been rented. From there it is quite easy to prove that a violation has occurred along with implementing the fine schedule that has already been set forth.
In addition to these and other measures, a number of new service providers have now sprouted to help associations, townships and landlords monitor and detect listings in the online home sharing sites. These service providers use automated and proprietary search applications and algorithms to find and report listings in their clients’ communities and properties. Once the listings are identified, some offer additional investigation and enforcement services to assist associations and landlords in taking the necessary steps to prevent the rentals.
Rinaldo Acri, Acri Commercial Realty CEO, says,
“Fair policies combined with effective monitoring and enforcement measures, will equip associations with the proper tools needed to ensure compliance. Handling vacation rentals is not an easy task. Start by setting up short-term rental rules proactively so that the rules make the most sense for your particular community.”