HOAs and Airbnb: what to consider

Understanding your HOA

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That lush landscaping. The weekly trash and recycling pick up. The security guard that watches over at night. All those amenities exist at your vacation home likely thanks to an HOA (homeowners association), which manages and oversees your community.

Your HOA also sets your community’s rules and standards, such as dictating which paint colors or plants are allowed for a consistent outdoor aesthetic. And, most importantly for you, they can also mandate whether or not you can rent out your property as an Airbnb.

Before you start setting up your home as a vacation rental, it’s key to understand your HOA’s stance on Airbnb and short-term rentals.

Here’s what to know.

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What does an HOA do?

HOA boards are typically made up of a group of homeowners living within the community. Many types of residential communities are governed by an HOA, from townhouses, to condos, to houses within a planned community.

Typically, an HOA board oversees and handles:

Maintenance and security services

HOAs most often handle lawn care, trash pickup, security, and landscaping in the common areas.

Amenities

HOAs oversee amenities exclusive to residents or tenants, such as a swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center, tennis courts, and a clubhouse.

Setting community standards and rules

HOAs can dictate whether pets are allowed, whether you can park an RV on property, and even how tall your grass can be. And—as you’ll see below—whether or not you can rent out your vacation home as an Airbnb.

Accounting and collecting HOA fees

If your second home is located in a community governed by an HOA, you could be on the hook to pay HOA fees anywhere from $50 to $2,500 (or more) a year—which all goes towards the maintenance and amenities of the community. These fees tend to increase over time.

Coordinating major work on property

You may also have to pay more for major property upgrades, repairs, and renovations.

The living room of a bayside luxury vacation rental in San Diego.

Your HOA and Airbnb: important things to consider

Want to turn your second home into a vacation rental, but not sure if your HOA would allow it? Your answer could be quick. Say, if your HOA outright forbids vacation rentals. Or, sometimes an HOA does allow vacation rental activity, but with restrictions.

Here are questions to think about:

Do HOAs allow Airbnbs?

Let’s start here. You’ll need to find out if your HOA allows short-term rentals in the first place. The place to start looking? Your community’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions—also known as CC&Rs. Basically, these are the rules that govern the HOA and they’ll usually address whether or not your home can be used for short- or long-term rentals.

CC&Rs vary from community to community—some HOAs forbid any rentals of 30 days or less. Others don’t allow leases of any kind, whether long or short.

It’s important to understand any HOA rules and restrictions that impact your ability to earn rental income from your property.

A modern pool at a Scottsdale, AZ vacation rental.

Vacasa tip:

Before checking your HOA’s CC&Rs, understand your local government’s stance on vacation rentals first. Some cities and states require business licenses. Some collect higher property taxes. Others require you to collect a lodging tax per booking. While others prohibit vacation rentals entirely.

How involved is your HOA?

HOA services vary from one to another. Understand how involved your HOA is in maintaining your property and shared spaces. Will your HOA dues go towards property landscaping, but not an overnight security presence? Will they cover the fitness center, but not the surrounding bike paths? These details can help you market your home and describe it accurately in your vacation rental listing.

How would your HOA rules impact your guests’ experience?

Your HOA could also have a say in how your guests stay and behave at your property. Add the HOA’s requirements to your own vacation home rules so that guests understand what is expected of them.

For instance, your HOA may:

  • require guests to check in at a front desk
  • prohibit guests from bringing a pet
  • require an extra fee to access shared amenities, like the pool and tennis courts
  • ask guests to observe quiet hours
  • prohibit any outside guests

When are vacation rental guests allowed?

Even if your HOA allows you to run your vacation home as an Airbnb, find out if they have any limits in place. This is key. You don’t want to accept bookings for most of the year, only to find out that your HOA caps short-term rental bookings to 3 months. Again, carefully read over the CC&Rs and other governing documents.

You’ll want to understand details such as:

  • Who is considered an Airbnb guest
  • How often Airbnb guests can visit
  • How long Airbnb guests can stay
  • What time of year Airbnb bookings are allowed and not allowed

Does your HOA allow guest parking?

Make sure your guests aren’t confused upon arrival or waste time circling parking lots, trying to figure out where to leave their car. Don’t risk the chance of having your guests ticketed (or worse, towed) by making sure to ask these questions:

  • How many cars are allowed per booking?
  • Are there designated spots or is it open parking?
  • Are parking permits required?
  • Do guests have to register their cars with the HOA?
  • Are campers or RVs allowed?
  • Are there any onsite charging stations for electric cars?

Is your community visitor-friendly?

While your HOA rules and local regulations usually have the final say on whether or not you can operate an Airbnb in your community, you should also consider your neighbors and the community itself.

Some things to think about:

  • Are there any other vacation rentals in your community?
  • What is the percentage of vacation rentals versus homes with full-time residents?
  • Who are your immediate neighbors?
  • Are your neighbors uneasy about vacation rental guests? Or, are they generally accepting?
  • What’s the nature of your neighborhood? Is it extremely quiet or primarily residential? Or lively and bustling?

HOAs and Airbnb FAQ

Short-term rentals, often referred to as vacation rentals, are furnished residences generally rented out to travelers looking to stay anywhere from one night to one month (depending on your market). Though, typically guests these rentals for a few days. People are drawn to vacation rentals as an alternative to hotels because they offer more space and more residential conveniences, like a full kitchen and a washer and dryer.

You can’t get around HOA short-term rental restrictions. As a property owner, you’re legally responsible to follow your HOA’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (as well as your local government’s vacation rental regulations).

Generally, if your HOA prohibits running your home as an Airbnb and you decide to do it anyway, the HOA may be well within its right to take action against you. This can include fines, legal action, or other restrictions. Our advice: understand the rules of your community and remain fully compliant with your HOA’s Airbnb policy.

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