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Appellate court rules condo owner can't offer short-term lease

The increase in popularity of Airbnb and short-term housing rental sites in the past few years has created a whole new host of legal dilemmas for Florida condo and homeowner's associations. Disputes have emerged over issues surrounding the use over an homeowner's property, which has resulted in an understanding that condo owners are not entitled to lease access to their residences on an unrestricted basis as they may want to.

In their filing of the case, recently heard in front of the state's Second District Court of Appeals, a plaintiff, a Florida condo association, chronicled their previous request that lower courts step in and prevent one of their condo owners from leasing their residence. They outlined how any rental, for a period of less than a month, required prior written consent of the condo association, yet was not secured in this case.

In response, the defendants didn't challenge the plaintiff's assertion that they had repeatedly violated that aspect of their community rules. In fact, they copped to the fact that they had repeatedly leased their unit for less than a month without seeking permission, a violation of their condo association covenants. What the defendant took exception with was the idea that the choices they made violated community association rules.

The final judgment offered by the lower court ultimately ruled in favor of the defendant. They agreed with the defendant's position that the language used in the community association documentation appeared to supersede lease restriction rules. Later, the appellate panel ruled quite the opposite. They asserted that the declaration did not permit the homeowner to sell, transfer or lease their condo without restrictions by just providing notice.

With the final appellate court decision, the plaintiff's position was validated. The condo association's provisions instituted were deemed not to be in conflict with community rules and thus enforceable. Since this decision was passed down, a new breed of business, that of condo association rule enforcement, especially as it relates to the short-term rental of units, have cropped up to address issues like the ones in this case.

If you own a condo in Florida and you are either unsure as what is permissible under community rules or you find yourself already involved in a dispute with them, an experienced Melbourne, Florida, real estate litigation attorney can help you in your legal matter.

Source: DailyBusinessReview.com, "Airbnb gone wild? Decision clarifies rules on short-term condo rentals," Gary Mars, March 22, 2017

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