Taking a Vacation in a Home Away From Home
Imagine yourself heading towards the destination of your dreams. You’ve rented a home near the beach for a week and you can’t wait to kick back, relax, and enjoy yourself. Perhaps you’ll spend the week walking the beach, and observing the beauty of the ocean. A short term rental is the perfect way for you to get a “real feel” for the local area. You’re happy to avoid spending another vacation at a hotel.
Let’s take a look at the owner of the home. For the owner, a short term rental provides an additional source of income, particularly if the owner only uses the property seasonally. Unfettered property rights are what many property owners strive towards. Besides providing an additional source of income, renting out a home short term can ensure that the house is being used – pipes are running, etc. If there are any issues, surely the renters will notify the owners of the home. This is a great way to make use of a second home.
Now take a look at the opposite end of spectrum. Perhaps you realize that your neighbor has decided to rent out their home. You have come to this realization because of the influx of vacationers in and out of the residence. This influx of short term renters is starting to cause significant issues with noise, etc. You moved into this neighborhood with the understanding that there were restrictive covenants in place to protect yourself and your fellow neighbors from situations like this. You’re frustrated.
Short Term Rentals and Legal Recourse
Whether you identify with one of the characters above or none, you can certainly find some scintilla of sympathy for each one. They are relational to an extent that you are likely to know someone who has experienced this, or know someone who knows someone who has dealt with an experience along the same vein. If you find yourself or someone close in a situation such as this, a real estate attorney can direct you to possible courses of action to take. These courses of action include whether or not you are legally allowed to rent out your property short term, whether you can take legal action against a neighbor who has, and more.
Increasingly, many owners of apartments or houses are renting out their properties short term. The internet enables many owners to do so. Proponents of free enterprise may argue that unfettered use of property is every property owners right, and that renting out a property ( short term or longer) should be an absolute right. However, the other team may argue differently. As a result, many individuals may find themselves buying property in a community that possess a property owners’ association, as well as restrictive covenants. Such restrictive covenants may strictly disallow the use of residential property for business purposes.
The Real Property, Probate & Trust Section of the Florida Bar recently published a thorough and useful article about a decision from the First District Court of Appeals regarding short term rentals and whether they violate restrictive covenants of associations. In the article by Michael J. Gelfland, the case discussed, Santa Monica P.O.A. v. Acord, Case No. 1D16-4782, (Fla. 1st DCA, April 28, 2017), is a very fact-specific case, yet it provides a useful insight into where courts may be heading with short term rentals, and what both associations and landlords of short term rentals in these communities might consider. If you are the representative of a property association or a property owner seeking the help of your property association, it bears repeating that the exact language used within a restrictive covenant should be specific. Although Santa Monica P.O.A. v. Acord is fact-specific, it does provide some valuable insight into this new area of debate. A real estate attorney can help you understand and outline this debate. Short term rentals present major concerns for many associations. The rise of AirBnB and similar companies present an opportunity for many home owners, but to the mire of neighbors and associations.
Seeking the Advice of a Real Estate Attorney
A real estate attorney provides a sound resource for both sides of the spectrum. Whether you are a property owner or the representative of the property owners’ association, a real estate attorney can ensure that you receive the adequate legal advice into this quagmire of short term rentals. Advocates for both sides of the spectrum understand that there is a delicate balance – respecting restrictive covenants and the purpose behind them, versus respecting freedom of property owners.
Many people take advantage of the short term property rentals. For instance, staying in an oceanfront home or condominium versus a hotel presents an opportunity for property owners the freedom to acquire income if they may leave their home for stretches of time. On the flip side, short term rentals appear more desirable to many people because they want to experience the “real feel” of an area with the plus side of cooking their own food, etc.
However, what about the neighbors? The association? Unfortunately, having an influx of strangers coming in and out of your neighbors short term rental can be a stressful situation. Vacationers are quite simply – on vacation. Therefore, the likelihood of noise or party atmospheres are possibly increased. Depending on your life experience and current situation you may or may not find yourself viewing the rise of short term rentals as a blessing or a curse.
No matter what side of the spectrum you relate to more, a situation may arise where you will need the advice of a real estate attorney. At Bret Jones P.A., our real estate attorneys and legal team are apprised of the cutting edge issues that face real property law. A consultation with our real estate attorney team can mean the world of a difference for your legal needs.
RPPTL NEW DECISION: SHORT TERM RENTALS, VRBO (SANTA MONICA BEACH P.O.A. V. ACORD)
April 30, 2017
Michael J. Gelfand