Managing Short-Term Vacation Rental Violations with Seacrest Services

It’s coming up on that time when travelers from the northern United States and foreign countries look forward to escaping to South Florida for a short-term vacation, escaping cold weather destinations during Fall and Winter months. Many homeowner associations are struggling with short-term rentals in their community, as many homeowners are using certain online providers to rent out their homes for very short periods of time. This can sometimes be the high turnover of nightly rentals.

The Florida Supreme Court addressed this issue in the 2002 Landmark Decision of Woodside Village Condominium Association v. Jahren, when the Florida Supreme Court found in favor for the association, ruling that when condo owners buy their home or units, they are on notice that the contract that spells out their legal rights (the declaration of condominium) can be amended by the vote specified therein. In these situations, the board is most often granted the authority for administrative details of rentals in each community where rentals are subject to association regulation.

Last year, Miami Beach in rolled out a strict new law designed to prevent widespread illegal rentals, requiring online platforms to list specific business license information on their sites. As you can imagine, this was a decision that was sharply criticized by Airbnb and the other short-term rental platforms that were allowing the rentals to happen in zoning districts that are patently illegal. Rental restrictions for a homeowner’s association are most commonly found in the declaration of covenants. Most declarations of covenants can only be amended by the approval of the owners, and the approval of a super-majority is required, with a percentage of the owners being the most common thresholds for amendments.

Community Association Rules: No More Short-Term Vacation Rentals

Tourists visiting South Florida appreciate the ease of a turnkey situation, the cheaper daily rates, and accountability of reviews that comes with the sharing economy of short-term vacation rentals. In almost every case, these South Florida vacation renters book a stay without necessarily even knowing that many of the associations governing South Florida’s condominiums and communities outlaw such short-term rentals. That can create awkward situations where tourists show up to a condo building with suitcases after traveling long distances, only to be turned away by security with nowhere else to go. Because of this, there are several South Florida developers that are recognizing the increasing demand for short-term vacation rentals – and specifically tailoring their new projects for such uses in neighborhoods and communities where they are allowed. In combination with the continued efforts of associations to get rid of illegal, short-term rentals, we are hopeful for the future where there won’t be visitors stranded with their suitcases and a ruined vacation in front of our properties.

Seacrest Services: Expert Association Management

The reality of illegal, short-term vacation rentals by owners or tenants at condo or community properties can be extremely damaging to the other owners and even the association. The practicalities are that there are safety concerns that come with a group of strangers staying at an association building for even a day or two; they often end up getting intoxicated, using building amenities, playing loud music at all hours, and throwing parties with even more non-residents. In these situations, owners can face financial repercussions if their building becomes known for excessive short-term rentals. The trickle-down effects of these repercussions could mean that it becomes more difficult to refinance a unit or obtain lines of credit. Even resale values can take a major hit, as realtors are inclined to steer prospective buyers away from communities that have the reputation of strangers coming and going.

Many associations are hiring counselors to review or amend their bylaws to ensure that the illegality of short-term rentals is explicitly addressed. They can also rely on the expertise of an association management company like Seacrest Services to root out and stop the violations. There are measures that can be taken, including:

  • Train staff so they know what key signs to look for, which can mean visitors with suitcases and people walking around aimlessly because they do not know where anything in the building is. It is perfectly acceptable for you to make sure that anyone who enters the lobby or courtyard of a building is asked who they are there to see. Through a combination of monitoring and training, most short-term vacation rental violations can be eliminated in just a few months.
  • Take written action with a cease and desist letter for those homeowners or tenants who use any rental platform to make out a profit or cover expenses. Most times, the threat of legal action requiring defense counsel is enough to get them to cease or take the short-term renting elsewhere.

In any situation that arises, Seacrest Services is here to provide the best community association property management services and to protect your reputation. We see it as highly successful to make public the efforts to eliminate short-term renting to the point that buildings and properties become known for being particularly unfriendly and unaccepting of the short-term rental violations.

At Seacrest Services of South Florida, we offer concierge community services and full-service property management to homeowner associations and boards. It is our mission to maximize and elevate your property values so that residents can enjoy the inspired lifestyle enjoyed by successful property owners in south Florida. We offer unparalleled levels of service and expertise, with a focus on building long-lasting relationships with our valued HOAs and boards who also share our vision and commitment to excellence.