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Homeowners’ association may regulate members’ short-term rentals

California and other states are attempting to find a middle ground where private homeowners can rent their properties out on a short-term basis but where such rentals will be limited in time and scope. In some communities, the homeowners’ association has come forward to put restrictions on short-term rentals. Homeowners complain that short-term rentals deflate the value of the homes by bringing transient residents with detrimental practices into the neighborhood.

The negative factors may include increased alcohol and drug use, barbecuing on front driveways, intensified street traffic and an influx of young children with the accompanying noise and increased accidents. The effort is directed at homeowners who are using their properties as Airbnb listings or in a similar format. Many homeowners associations may have governing documents that already contain prohibitions against short-term rentals.

If you are concerned about this issue in your association, you should consider amending your governing documents. 

There may also be existing deed restrictions that will serve the same purpose. Where there are no existing protections, the association can call a meeting and vote on adding such a provision. There appears to be no legal reason why such prohibitions will not be enforced by the courts. They are more or less similar to zoning and similar restrictions on undesirable activities that can impact the basic characteristics of a neighborhood. As long as the restrictions passed by a homeowners’ association do not include discriminatory factors dealing with race, ethnicities and the other protected civil liberties, such provisions should pass muster and be enforceable.

In California and elsewhere, the state imposes a framework of statutory regulation over the operation and authority of the homeowners’ association. It also may regulate or protect the right of homeowners to rent out their properties. In all of these provisions and competing considerations, the ultimate goal is to find a middle ground where a homeowner’s rights over the property are not totally eliminated by an attempt to root out commercial businesses that have goals incompatible with those of the vast majority of homeowners.