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Airbnb—Coming Soon to a Unit Next to You?

signleaseOver the holidays, my husband and I took our first, much-anticipated trip to Paris, France.  Rather than stay in a hotel, we decided to rent a “flat” through a website called “Airbnb” so that we could fully experience the Parisian lifestyle.  For those of you that don’t know, Airbnb is a website that connects “hosts”, or property owners in various cities throughout the world, to travelers looking for lodging in those cities.  Using Airbnb as a conduit, the travelers then rent a home, or even individual rooms in a home, directly from the property’s owner.  The rental period can range from anywhere from a day to months.  

While my husband and I greatly enjoyed our little Parisian flat, I couldn’t help wondering what the other property owners we passed in the building lobby thought about our host’s Airbnb visitors.   Certainly, if I lived in that lovely Parisian building, I might be wary of having a constant stream of various strangers from all over the world staying right next door to me. 

That got me thinking about how Airbnb might affect my community association clients here in Atlanta.   A quick search of Airbnb reveals hundreds of listings for various condominium units and homes for rent throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area.  

If any of these listings end up in your community association, your association’s legal rights with regard to the Airbnb listing will depend upon your recorded Declaration of Condominium or Declaration of Covenants. Specifically, whether the Declaration contains any restrictions on an owner’s leasing of his or her property.  For example, many Declarations contain restrictions requiring that any leases be in writing and in a form approved by the Board and that only an entire home may be rented, not just individual rooms.  The Declaration may also prohibit “transient” leases or leases that last less than 6, or even 12, months.  Additionally, some Declarations contain restrictions on the total number of homes in the community that may be leased at any one time.  If your association’s Declaration contains such restrictions, an owner’s rental of his or her home through Airbnb listing may very well violate them. 

So, owners who live in a community association should carefully read their community association’s documents before listing their property on Airbnb.  And, if you are on the Board of a community association facing an issue with an Airbnb listing, your Declaration may very well provide you with some legal recourse.  If it does not, your community association attorney can assist you in developing an amendment to your Declaration to add provisions regulating leasing to address issues stemming from Airbnb rentals. 

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