HOAs vs Airbnb Hosts

Airbnb has become the new norm for short term and long term vacation rentals throughout the globe. In beach cities like San Diego, short term rentals under 30 days are particularly popular. Clients frequently contact me asking whether they are permitted to rent out a room in their home, or their entire home, to Airbnb guests, when they live in a common interest development governed by a homeowners’ association. In most of these cases, a disgruntled neighbor reported the Airbnb host to the HOA. In order to determine whether the HOA permits Airbnb rentals, it is essential to review the Covenants Conditions and Restrictions (“CC&Rs) and Rules and Regulations implemented in the particular housing complex. Many CC&Rs contain leasing restrictions which prevent homeowners from renting their property for less than 30 days. What many homeowners do not know is that Airbnb or other short term rentals would qualify as a “lease” since the host is being paid money (or rent) in exchange for allowing the guest to occupy their home. This would mean that any leasing restrictions in the CC&Rs would apply to short term rentals. In other cases I have seen language restricting a homeowner from engaging in “business or commercial activity” in their home to the extent that such activity does not comply with the applicable zoning regulations. However, home businesses are generally permissible in residential zones, as long as there is no nuisance created (ie/ no unreasonable activity that is detectible by sight, smell or sound). In each of these cases, it will be necessary to review the zoning regulations for each particular property under the controlling city Municipal Code. Homeowners should be aware that if there is no language expressly restricting leases, transient occupancy, or short term vacation rentals in the controlling documents of the complex, the HOA cannot penalize owners for acting as an Airbnb host until the HOA Board takes action to amend the regulations, usually by a majority vote. Each case must be examined individually according to the local rules and governing documents, so it is important that you have an attorney review these documents before renting out your home to Airbnb guests in order to avoid being penalized by the HOA.