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Short Term Rentals in Condos

There are very few condominium projects that allow short term rentals like Airbnb. Most of the ones that do lie in the high tourist area sites, like Houston, Texas and have onsite management companies that assist with the functions involved in short term rentals for a percentage or additional fee.

What if I get permission?

As with any rental, you would most likely need to get approval from the condo association to engage in a short term condo rental. Be sure when you do this, you look closely at the terms; most condo rules prohibit short term rental by defining them as anything shorter than 6 to 12 months. This certainly will not accommodate the owner who is looking at nightly, weekend or weekly rentals which are popular with Airbnb in high tourist areas like Houston.

Don’t forget to check local state and city restrictions against short term rentals as well.  Texas’ state should guide you to rules for Texas and the City of Houston can provide local information for that area.

What if I do it without permission?

Many short term rental advertisements you see out there are being done without the knowledge of the other owners of the condominium or the condo association. In fact, some management companies are hiring firms to search for ads offering short term rental that have not been approved and are illegal. Once identified the condo owner is normally served with a cease and desist letter and the attorneys’ fees for the letter; a fine and any other additional attorney fees the condo association may incur. Failure to pay can result in a lien against the unit.

In fact, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law late 2016 that will make it a lot more difficult for Airbnb to operate in the state. New York does not allow rentals of less than 30 days in a multi-unit building if the tenant is not present; something that many Airbnb listings advertise. This new law makes even listing an advertisement for this situation illegal itself, a tool that some think the state will use to go after Airbnb directly.

Why do condominiums dislike short term rentals?

Although many short term renters are just families looking for a little larger place to call home for the weekend, many short term rentals are polar opposites. Let’s face it, in short term rentals owners and tenants alike rarely know who will be staying in the unit much less how they will behave.  Though Airbnb has a unique on-boarding and review based system, can they really discern how people will behave? Will they steal? Will they damage the unit or common areas? Will they intimidate permanent owners?

There is actually documented proof of short term rentals for loud bachelor parties and drug deals. Think about what the increased risk will do to not only your insurance premiums, but also the master policy for the property. What happens to the insurance if one of them slips in the pool area and is seriously injured?

The reality is, when you buy a condo, you buy into a family with common interest and rules that govern the relationships; those rules must apply to all, so if the association rules say no to short term rentals, just don’t do it. Cities like Houston have numerous hotels and business suites available.

If you are unsure what position your condo association has on short term rentals, check your bylaws and rules today. If you still are not clear contact your management company or condo association board member to clarify. To enjoy some dialog on this subject just click here.