Editor’s Note: During this crisis, The Cooperator family of publications will be passing along information, tips, and FAQs submitted by our network of industry professionals, including attorneys, managers, and other subject matter experts. The views and opinions expressed are those of the contributors, and as the situation evolves in the coming days and weeks, those views and opinions may evolve as well. We encourage readers to be mindful of this; check posting dates, make note of contributors’ locations and industries, and above all, consult with your own community professionals as you and your neighbors navigate this challenging landscape.
As homeowners association residents voice growing concerns about people coming from unknown places into their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, boards are taking direction from states and localities to temporarily ban short-term rentals to slow the spread of the disease.
“Many associations which do not already ban leases of less than a month are imposing temporary outright bans on short-term rentals,” for the health and safety of residents, says Marshal Granor, managing partner at Granor & Granor in Horsham, Pensylvania, and a fellow in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL).
Some states have imposed short-term rental bans to combat this crisis. In Florida, where short-term rentals are extremely popular, restrictions are now in place at hotels, resorts, or other lodging to stop the spread COVID-19. According to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, there are no check-ins for short-term rentals for the next two weeks. People already in Florida can stay until the end of their rental period.
In Sanibel, Florida, the city council voted to adopt a 28-day ban on accommodation rentals of any kind on the island. Under the order, any type of rental unit, including resorts, inns, hotels, motels, and homes may not be rented between now and April 24. Any reservations already made for that time period must be canceled.
In Galveston, Texas, short-term rental guests were ordered to leave the island, according to the Galveston County Daily News. The new order also stiffens the fines for short-term vacation rental operators who violate the ban. According to reports, the new rules are meant to get tourists off the island.
“There are many localities, cities, and counties implementing emergency temporary orders banning short-term rentals. Community association boards should check with their local municipality to see if a ban is in place,” says Dawn Bauman, CAE, senior vice president of government and public affairs at CAI. “It may be easier for an association to rely on a government-ordered ban on short-term rentals as opposed to creating their own.”
During these uncertain times, association leaders are very concerned about how to pay their bills for necessities and want to limit legal fees. “This is one category where legal advice—and the board’s ability to rely on that advice—will keep associations compliant and out of trouble,” Granor explains.
“Allowing short-term rental right now is not smart,” he adds. “There are many people who aren’t symptomatic but carry the virus. Limiting the addition of new people into a community is good policy right now.”
Click here for CAI’s guidance, sample forms and documents, and FAQs on the COVID-19 outbreak.