It’s time to address one of the hot-button issues that’s become increasingly prominent in communities around the country. With the rise of online short-term rental services, HOAs and resident organizations everywhere have been confronted with handling the rise in homeowners renting out their homes for vacation rentals. Sites like Airbnb and VRBO have allowed homeowners more opportunities than ever to bring in short-term renters. But these renters pose a unique set of problems for communities and their HOAs. How should these rentals be regulated? How can the safety of the community be assured? How do these short-term rentals understand and abide by the communities rules?
Questions like these aren’t going away anytime soon, as these rentals are only poised to become more popular for homeowners everywhere. Let’s take a look at some of the problems these rentals cause. Then we’ll offer some potential solutions that your community can use to combat potential conflicts and issues that may arrive.
Potential Issues with Short Term Renters in Your Community
The appeal of short-term renters is obvious. They offer a great way to earn income when owners are not currently occupying their home. But as for the rest of the community, and the HOA board that governs it, they can cause problems.
No Knowledge of Community Rules
Short-term renters arrive in your community with no knowledge of the neighborhood or your community rules. These might include noise restrictions, parking rules, acceptable behavior, and other guidelines. Even if their hosts leave behind binders full of the community rules, these are usually left unread by short-term renters. This can result in the renters unknowingly breaking community rules and causing disruptions within the community.
No Personal Investment in Community
One of the biggest concerns with short-term renters is that they have no prior personal connection to the neighborhood itself. Most residents don’t obey community rules and respect their neighbors just because they don’t want to get in trouble. They do so because they feel a special connection to the community and want to see it improved. Short-term renters have no such connection, and as such can feel less inclined to treat the community and its members with respect.
Lack of Reputation or Connection to Neighbors
Another issue is that of the neighbors don’t know short-term renters. And normal homeowners that do rent do not inform the neighborhood. Watching strangers enter into your neighbors home can be a questionable situation in the first place, but it also means that visiting renters have no social reason to make a good impression. Respecting noise rules for your neighbors next door is a lot easier when you know you’ll see them at your children’s shared preschool the next day.
One obvious concern is safety. With no background checks or knowledge about who’s coming into the neighborhood for these short-term stays, security is a real concern. Not every renter will be a safety threat—in fact, most won’t be. But the lack of information about each renter can make community residents feel uneasy, and for good reason.
Parking issues also shouldn’t be overlooked. Short-term rentals often cater to large groups. If each member of that large group brings their own vehicle, you can quickly find your street jammed with vehicles. This can leave your residents frustrated and looking to you to solve the issue.
Noise is an obvious concern. Party-minded vacationers might have different ideas about acceptable noise levels than full-time residents. If homes in your neighborhood are located close together, that may lead to quickly rising tension.
Does your community have a pet-free rule? Well, short term renters might have no such rules, or be aware of your community’s regulations. And Pets for comfort and disability uses have no restrictions, so just because your community may have rules your community legally has to allow registered pets for this use.
How to Avoid Short-Term Renter Issues in Your Community
So how do you avoid issues like these and prevent short-term renters from disrupting your community and leaving your residents turning to you out of frustration? Here are some approaches you can take.
Long-Term Rentals Only
You might consider enforcing a rule of only long-term renters. These renters are less transient, more tied to the community, and less likely to blatantly disregard the community’s rules.
Minimum Rental Term
A similar tactic is to implement a minimum rental term. This might be as high as a year or as low as three months. Regardless, it can help you keep short-term renters from flowing in and out of your community at a feverish clip.
No one likes fines. If you can regulate your community’s short-term rentals by imposing fines on residents, they might feel less inclined to try and skirt the rules. Residences who have been using this as an additional income stream won’t be happy, but the rest of the community will thank you.
Registration with HOA Office
If you’re going to allow short-term rentals, consider enforcing a regulation that requires them to register at the HOA office before being approved to stay. This allows your HOA to use judgment and get a sense for whether a guest will respect community guidelines. To that point, it also allows your HOA the chance to make clear what those guidelines are.
Renters and HOA’s
Handling short-term rentals in your community can be stressful. But if you follow some of these helpful tips, you’ll be well on your way to managing this issue in a responsible way that your community will appreciate.