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Short-term rentals? No such thing as easy money

Short-term rentals? No such thing as easy money

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – April 14, 2016 – Question: I just found out my tenant is listing our condo on one of those real estate websites for short-term rentals. I am concerned and don't want this to happen. What are my rights? – Sheryl
Answer: Airbnb and similar services are becoming increasingly popular. They allow people to list, find and rent lodging, usually in privately owned homes, for days or weeks at a time. This can be a good way to make extra money but, of course, it comes with a litany of potential problems.
You need to check the rules of your community association because most ban short-term rentals of any type. The association could impose substantial fines.
Even if your tenant uses these services without your knowledge, these fines still fall on you.
Also, more municipalities are passing local ordinances banning short-term rentals, and that could result in even more fines. You also should be concerned about guests injuring themselves and suing you as the homeowner.
Some of the listing services will have varying insurance policies in place to cover this, but you must check this carefully. If the guest damages your home, some services may reimburse you, but you still are left to take care of the details.
Sales tax on the rental also can be an issue. Some of the services will collect and remit the taxes for you, but the ultimate responsibility for this falls on you, so make sure it happens.
If you own a home and rent to a traditional month-to-month tenant, it's important to include terms in your lease banning your tenant from subleasing the property without your written approval.
While I certainly am not knocking these types of services, it's important to understand what you're getting into. In my experience, there is no such thing as easy money, and things are seldom as simple as they seem.
About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.
Copyright © 2016 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.