If you are considering buying a property with the purpose of renting it out on a short-term nightly basis, you might want to think twice, especially if the property is governed by a homeowner or condo association.
From the host owners’ perspective, these types of online rental services offer a convenient, low-cost way to earn additional income. In their view it is almost the same as having family or friends visiting, except that money changes hands.
From the perspective of the community association, however, these arrangements look quite different. They put extra burdens on vehicle traffic, parking, trash, noise, common amenities, property management, and public services (police, fire, emergency medical response). The visitors are viewed as strangers with no ties to the community.
An article in the Tampa Bay Times (4.26.2015), titled “Pinellas Beach Towns Struggle with Illegal Home Rentals”, staff writer Mike Brassfield reports ….. residents of Pinellas County’s beach neighborhoods say they’re noticing more and more homes being illegally rented to tourists for a week at a time, or even on a nightly basis.
In response, a growing network of fed-up Clearwater Beach residents are taking matters into their own hands, banding together to monitor their own neighborhoods and feed tips to the authorities. For the first time, violators are being hit with heavy fines — a whopping $8,500 in one case.
Clearwater bans home rentals that are shorter than a month. St. Pete Beach allows homes to be rented for less than 30 days only three times a year. Madeira Beach prohibits homes from being rented for less than three months in some neighborhoods, less than six months in others.
So, what should you know before renting your property as an Airbnb?
1. Are you allowed to list your property on Airbnb?
If your home is a rented apartment or a condominium, it is important to speak with your landlord or condo board before listing your space on Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO. Many leases and condo agreements have complicated rules and penalties regarding sub-leasing.
2. Do you need insurance?
Letting strangers stay in your home can open you up to serious financial and personal risk. Do not make assumptions about your coverage.
3. Play it safe with Airbnb guests.
Safety checks are in place to help avoid rental horror stories. Airbnb has a two-way review system-hosts review guests and guests review hosts. This helps you to determine whether a potential guest is one you can welcome into your home. As a host, you can create house rules so guests know what is expected of them such as no parties or pets.
Getting the facts about neighborhood and association limitations is key before blindly making an investment to rent or buy a property with the intention of using it as Airbnb. Things are never quite as easy they seem.