B.S. from Galveston County, Texas writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hello, I purchased a beach front condo this year to be my full-time residence. I’m questioning that decision as there are a large number of short-term rentals (STRs) here. It has been a miserable summer. The screaming, yelling, the pot smoking on the balconies, commandeering the pool and common areas, the elevators break down when the STRs are here, taking up all the handicap parking… I am disabled. Most of our full-time residents are retired, 50+, and many are disabled. The issue is, we are almost 50/50 rentals to residents. Once rentals go over 50%, we pretty much lose any power to enforce anything. Our board is predominantly made up of those who participate in STRs. So even if we got the majority to force and special meeting to make them vote on banning STRs, they mostly likely wouldn’t pass it anyways, right? Seems like such a conflict of interests. Our Declaration states: RESTRICTIONS (1) states: “The following restrictions, covenants, and conditions are placed upon each Apartment in this condominium project as a general plan or scheme for the restrictions of the benefits of each Apartment Unit, to-wit: Each apartment shall be used and occupied for residential purposes only and no Apartment shall be used for any business, commercial, trade or professional purposes, except as permitted in Paragraph (7). “(Paragraph 7 is about the developer being allowed to have a model apartment and the rules for it. it has nothing to do with STRs) There is also a covenant that addresses our “right to peace, quiet, and reasonable enjoyment”. What should we do? Where do we start?
Mister Condo replies:
B.S., I am sorry that your ideal beach home has become less than ideal. Since you say that the Board is made up of mostly investors who do not live on the property, the first thing I would do is band together with the other full-time residents and vote out the existing Board. You really need full-time owners on the Board if anything is going to change. The Board executes the covenants and can quickly act against anyone breaking the rules of the association. The Board can also pass a short-term rental restriction following the rules of governance as outlined in your documents. Expect lots of pushback from the investors who are obviously profiting nicely from the short-term rentals. Finally, anyone smoking pot or breaking any laws should be reported to the police. Local law enforcement can help your short-term renters clean up their act until the short-term rentals are controlled. Work with a qualified local community association attorney to guide you through the proper steps. I can think of adding a few items such as “move-in / move-out” fees that would discourage short-term rentals. Ultimately, it will be a war of wills. The idea is to sour the sweetness for the investors, encouraging them to sell to potential resident-owners. Once you have a majority of resident owners, you should have no problem completely banning short-term rentals. Good luck!