Why Airbnb is Good for HOAs

Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, Roomorama, and other websites allow
residential homeowners the opportunity to rent their homes, or portions of
their homes, to guests for a daily fee. The proliferation of these sites has
exploded over the past two years arising from our connected, technological age
and newfound ability to monetize our homes as assets. Like many emerging technologies and innovation, these sites have created controversy across the country, especially here in San Diego.

Unfortunately, some persons in government and community
associations believe such ability to leverage homes for financial gain is a bad
thing that must be prohibited or severely restricted. These same persons are
likely against Uber and Lyft, Starbucks and Amazon, and possibly air travel,
smart phones and sliced bread. As you may guess, I am not one of them. In fact,
I support free enterprise, entrepreneurialism and strong homeowner rights (with
reasonable safeguards).

Here are some of potential advantages and disadvantages I’ve
heard relating to condominium and homeowner associations and Airbnb use.

Airbnb Advantages:

  • Provides income to owners;
  • Increases cultural diversity of residents, especially with international visitors;
  • Arguably increases overall property values;
  • Can increase annual revenue to association.

Airbnb Disadvantages:

  • Security (can be mitigated with close control of keys and other access devices);
  • Arguably increases wear and tear (how much damage to elevators does baggage cause?);
  • Occupants and guests unaware of CC&Rs (can mitigate with requirement for guests to be provided a copy of CC&Rs and Rules);
  • Lose sense of community – premises become more like a hotel (offset by increase in cultural diversity of guests);
  • Arguably increased use of amenities (do overnight guests [often tourists] use club house and fitness center in lieu of getting out and about in city? If so, does this use result in damage or increased costs? If so, can be offset by association fee/tax);
  • Possible insurance risk (check with association’s insurance agent/broker to obtain endorsement or rider);
  • Potentially subject building/association to the Americans with Disabilities Act (minor factor since associations already subject to the Fair Housing Act, which has essentially same anti-discrimination laws as ADA).

As demonstrated above, although it initially may appear the
disadvantages outnumber the advantages, a closer examination reveals the pros
overshadow the cons for allowing Airbnb in community associations. Any residual
problems can be ameliorated through reasonable regulation by condos and HOAs.

Reasonable Regulations:

  • Limit the number of listings per home per year;
  • Require registration of all guests, including contact info with mobile numbers;
  • Require guests to be provided CC&Rs and Rules in advance of arriving on property and warning that violations will result in monetary fine and notification to Airbnb of problem user;
  • Allow association to impose a daily fee/tax to be used for association
    maintenance/reserve funding.

Airbnb is a disrupter innovation that can benefit all owners
in a community association. The technology should not be feared, but rather,
embraced as the enabling technology and value that it provides. Airbnb should be treated in the same vein as
any rental option, that is, with reasonable regulation in lieu of outright

If you live in a condominium or homeowner association that
is prohibiting or severely restricting Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, Roomorama, and
other websites, contact qualified legal counsel to assist you.