1st DCA Opinion on Short Term Residential Home Rentals

A home owners association in Bay County had brought a lawsuit arguing that the use of homes for short term vacation rentals, such as on VRBO or Airbnb, violated the covenants restricting the property use to residential only and prohibiting the use for business purposes.  In a Florida VRBO Rental Case of first impression, the Court held that this uses did not violate the restrictive covenants

The specific issue in this appeal—whether short-term vacation rentals violate restrictive covenants requiring property to be used only for residential purposes and prohibiting its use for business purposes—appears to be a matter of first impression in Florida. . . .

However, courts in a number of other states have considered the issue and those courts have almost uniformly held that short-term vacation rentals do not violate restrictive covenants nearly identical to those at issue in this case. . . .

These decisions explain that in determining whether short-term vacation rentals are residential uses of the property, the critical issue is whether the renters are using the property for ordinary living purposes such as sleeping and eating, not the duration of the rental.

We agree with the analysis in these decisions.

This case is significant as a case of first impression in Florida, because it is the only appellate decision on this matter, it is binding on all Florida trial courts. and it is significant, because it is one of the growing number of case interpreting laws that are being applied to technologically disruptive business models such as Airbnb, UBER and VRBO.

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