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Preventing Issues With Residents Renting on AirBNB, VRBO, Etc.

November 30, 2015 Posted in Community Association Law

By now, many community associations are familiar with websites like AirBNB.com and VRBO.com. These sites, which are open to the public and generally do not require the payment of a fee to browse, allow property owners to post pictures and information about their properties in hopes of securing several weeks’ worth of renters.

However, owners and community associations alike should take heed, as this classifieds-style approach to renting properties is not without risk and possible municipal regulation. Community associations may wish to consider implementing rental policies to ensure residents are properly vetting incoming renters, as well as ensuring renters are well aware of the property rules and restrictions.

Addressing Short-Term Rentals

Online sites offer renters the opportunity to rent for periods ranging from a long weekend to a couple months, depending on renters’ needs and reasons for the trip. Accordingly, a community association should ensure its governing documents and deed restrictions properly address issues including:

  • The definition of a “short-term” renter, and the maximum length of stay allowable
  • Whether a short-term renter is responsible for maintenance and upkeep (an especially important issue for renters looking to stay a few months)
  • A disclaimer of all liability for damage inflicted by a short-term renter
  • Minimum requirements with regard to properly vetting short-term renters inquiring online. For example, “properties shall not be rented for purposes of celebrating spring break, etc.”
  • Whether a security deposit will be required and, if so, in what amount

Of course, additional terms and provisions may be required, depending on the unique nature of the building and its location. What’s more, many municipalities – including New York City – maintain regulations on short-term rentals, which can place community associations and individual unit owners at risk of fines and penalties.

Consider the Surroundings

There exists a long-standing regulation prohibiting the rental of a residential property for shorter than 30 days. In the words of one property manager in Manhattan, “[o]wners don’t want weekenders or other short-term stays because it turns their home atmosphere into a hotel atmosphere with visitors who can be loud, disruptive, rude, and simply not use the care required to help keep the community clean, safe and free of damage….”

This comment brings us to the final point about short-term rentals: They’re not always worth it. In exchange for a few weeks’ worth of income from out-of-town guests, the individual unit owner and surrounding residents could quickly find themselves subject to unruly behavior congruent with a vacation-like atmosphere. In addition, short-term renters do not have the same loyalty to maintaining a property as a unit owner, and are simply not invested in going the extra mile to avoid damage and disruption – a notion which could end up costing an owner more in the long run.

Learn More About New Jersey and New York Condominium Association Law Today!

If you are considering your options with regard to short-term rentals, please do not hesitate to contact Griffin Alexander, P.C. in New York: (212) 374-9790, Randolph, New Jersey: (973) 366-1188, or East Brunswick, New Jersey: (732) 514-6601 today.

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