If you own a home in a homeowner's association or condominium owner's association and are thinking about renting it out, you probably know that there are several factors to consider before you ever take the first steps in looking for a tenant. Understanding your responsibilities and obligations will not only make the leasing experience more positive and successful for everyone involved but will also help preserve the value of your property.
What do the Governing Documents Say?
The first thing you should do if you're considering renting out your home is confirm that the governing documents of your association don't restrict you from renting. In some HOAs/COAs, there may be a minimum rental period. This could be anything from 30 or 90 days to a year. This will be something that can be found in the governing documents of the association and isn’t a rule that can be created by the board of directors.
Using a Reputable Rental Company
If your association does allow for rentals, another piece of advice is to use a reputable rental company that will properly vet and screen tenants. This is of course not for discrimination purposes, but rather to make sure that the needs of the potential tenants will coincide with the rules and regulations of the community. Say, for instance, you want to rent out a condominium that only has two parking spaces, but an interested family has four drivers - where are the other two vehicles going to be parked? That could turn out to be a problem if it isn't considered prior to a lease being signed.
The same thing goes for pets. Some associations don't allow tenants to have pets or they may restrict the size, breed or number of pets so you need to be aware of those types of rules. The time when a person is ready to start moving in is not the time to have that discussion and a professional property management company knows to be on the lookout for those sorts of things.
Tenant Responsibilities and the Terms of the Lease
Another thing to be aware of is to check if your association has a specific required lease that you must use – some do. You should always also be sure that tenants receive a full copy of the governing documents, especially the use restrictions and rules and regulations. Make sure all parties understand what amenities tenants are allowed to use. Typically, an owner has the right to transfer the use of amenities if they're renting out a property, but that could mean that the owners themselves aren't allowed to use the amenities during the time they're renting out their home. Another example is that most associations don't allow tenants to rent out clubhouses and things like that - these are all good questions to ask and having a clear understanding of what is and isn't allowed will create a better experience for everyone.
We recommend that when you're leasing a unit that you make it clear that tenants will ultimately be responsible for any fines that are incurred for any rule violations. Homeowners associations do not fine tenants, they fine owners, so owners are advised to protect themselves ahead of time by including some language in their lease that ensures they'll recoup any fees that may be charged due to tenant actions.
Overall the best thing you can do when considering renting out your home is ask lots of questions, make sure you have a clear understanding of the governing documents and do your best to be sure that you, the association, and the tenants are all on the same page.
Mike Stonestreet is a 30-year veteran of the professional HOA management industry who has achieved one of the highest education-based designations in the field, that of Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM). Community Association Management Services (CAMS) has been a leading association management company since its inception in 1991. CAMS is a trusted provider of management services, dedicated to holding themselves to a higher standard of service to the community associations they serve throughout North Carolina and South Carolina. To find out how CAMS can benefit your community or visit www.CAMSmgt.com.
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