Condo Associations Continue Ban on Short-Term Rentals

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In March, Gov. DeSantis banned short-term vacation rentals. That ended with Phase 3, but some HOAs kept the ban in place citing resident safety. However, that also created problems for short-term rental investors, some of whom haven’t had income in seven months.

While people self-quarantined in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, some communities tried to insulate residents from outsiders.

Armed with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ March executive order prohibiting short-term vacation rentals, including new reservations and bookings, communities such as Sea Oaks followed suit.

The health and safety of Sea Oaks’ full-time residents was the first concern behind the restrictions, said Connie Wayne, president of the Sea Oaks Property Owners Association Inc.

“We decided we would put the health and safety of our residents No. 1,” Wayne said. The condominium association wanted to limit the influx of temporary residents to be safe, she said. Many of the community’s residents fall are in the high-risk age group for complications from COVID-19, she said.

“We did not want to expose our residents to people who were coming in from other places,” Wayne said.

The ban on short-term rentals ended last month when the state entered Phase 3 of its reopening plan. Sea Oaks plans to continue the restriction until Nov. 1, and then only allow longer-term rentals of more than a month.

“We continue to monitor the changes,” Wayne said. The association board also continues to get input from its members, she said.

That decision won’t help investors such as Angie Bresnahan, who rents out a two-bedroom, two-bath Sea Oaks unit a week at a time.

She estimates she will lose $60,000-$70,000 this year because of the restrictions. During high season, her unit can go for about $7,500 a month, she said.

When the rental ban was enacted, Bresnahan said, she understood the reasoning. But as time passed, lost rentals became costly since she still was paying her mortgage and monthly association fees, she said.

“Nobody can stomach seven months without rentals,” Bresnahan said.

Bresnahan says she cannot understand the reason to continue the restriction. There is an open courtyard outside the units, with no shared elevators or railings that could create a COVID-19 hotspot, she said.

“We believe (the association) has overreached,” Bresnahan said.

Wayne disagreed.

Swimming pools, the beach club, restaurants and tennis facilities all are common areas within the community, she said.

“I think we’ve all been challenged by this financially,” Wayne said. “We’ve all had to make some difficult decisions.”

Other communities also place restrictions on the length of stay for rentals. At The Moorings, only one of the 15 homeowner associations allows weekly rentals, said rental manager Allison McGraw. All others require a 30-day minimum stay, she said.

“Our owners prefer not to have that in-and-out,” she said. Those restrictions have been in place before COVID-19, she said.

News Source: Florida

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