The popularity of Airbnb.com and other short-term accommodation rentals booked through “home sharing” websites is growing. Meanwhile, condo associations across North America battle against the trend to protect their communities from a revolving door of Airbnb renters. While condo boards take steps to control how owners are allowed to rent out units, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open in a way that is beneficial to all community stakeholders.
Last December, Ontario’s Superior Court ruled that condominium corporations with a “single family use” provision (i.e., for residential purposes and not for hotel-like business) in the condo’s “declaration” have the authority to ban unit owners from renting out their properties on services such as Airbnb.
This ruling could be a game-changer for condo communities dealing with short-term rental issues, as other jurisdictions study the reasoning and apply it to their own.
Whatever happens in the aftermath of the court decision, the fact remains that Airbnb adds another layer of complexity to a lifestyle already beset with the complications of shared ownership and close community living.
If your condominium corporation is one that indeed allows Airbnb, beyond the hassles of dealing with a continuous stream of strangers taking up temporary residence, there are other aspects to consider. We’ve identified five topics that owners, residents, community managers, and board members should be mindful of:
Safety is an issue.
Renters in shared living spaces have access to common areas like a gym, swimming pool, parking garage, or rooftop. Airbnb guests, however, don’t pay fees for maintaining these areas and have little incentive (beyond common decency) to avoid misuse. Some owners may feel threatened with strangers, who are typically unaware of the rules, using their space. If Airbnb hosts are tolerated in your community the board should make sure rules for using amenities and common areas are posted in the unit(s) being rented to short-term guests.
Keep a clear, simple line of communication.
It’s important to be able to notify people in the community about problems or maintenance requirements. For example, if there’s a scheduled repair to the pool, or the hallway carpets are being cleaned, residents should know about it. Evercondo’s bulletin feature, which is accessible online or via mobile app, helps keep everyone in the community updated. Airbnb hosts included.
Insurance coverage should be checked.
Are Airbnb renters covered under your community’s master insurance policy? What happens when a renter decides to jump off the building? It pays to check into who is responsible for damages to common areas by Airbnb renters. Also, if a Airbnb renter gets injured (for example in a slip and fall) in a common area of the building, the condo association could be liable if short-term renters are not covered under the policy.
Noise complaints may escalate.
Often, renters who use Airbnb are on vacation, which means they may be up partying late or playing loud music in the unit. If such activities are subject to fines, be prepared to leverage them on unit owners who are Airbnb hosts—the tenants will be long gone once the fine is issued.
Get the community on board.
If you feel the risks of Airbnb renters are outweighed by the financial benefits they bring to owners, it’s a good idea to amend your bylaws to reflect this position. Have an open discussion with owners about allowing properties to be listed on Airbnb.com and other short-term rental websites. Amendments may include conditions that owners must follow when renting out their units (for example limiting the number of days a unit can be rented out) and require owners to meet the renters in person, as well as creating a list of rules about use of common areas.
Does your condo community allow Airbnb renters? How do you manage issues related to having short-term tenants? Share your stories in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Evercondo the leading web and mobile platform that facilitates quick, useful communication between property managers, the condo association or HOA board, and residents. Contact us for a demonstration or a free trial to see how we can keep your communities happy.