Homesharing and Insurance What Your Board Should Know

In cities like Miami and Palm Beach, where even the most profligate among us may shed a tear or two at hotel room prices, the homesharing trend has grown by leaps and bounds. With more condo and HOA residents than ever renting out their units to short-stay vacationers, Floridians have found a new way to pocket more than a few extra bucks in this new part of the tourist economy.

If you're unfamiliar with services like Airbnb, this is how it works: homeowners and tenants alike can create a profile on the Airbnb website, much like a hotel on sites like Priceline or Expedia. The “bnb” in the name denotes the idea that users can rent a room in someone's home for a few nights in the style of a bed-and-breakfast. Rather than shell out for a cookie-cutter room from a non-descript hotel chain, users opt for the more personal, entrepreneurial spirit of homesharing.

Some Airbnbers may have an extra bedroom or pool house they rent out while they stay and play host for their guests. Others in very desirable high-rent parts of the country like Miami or New York may rent out their entire one-bedroom apartment for a few nights a month to help with their own rent, and simply stay at a friend's place in the meantime.

With much lower overhead than hotels, Airbnb hosts can make a very healthy profit with not too much work. Change a few bed sheets here, wash a few towels there, and you're done. Hosts and guests alike can rate one another as a way to add accountability to the system.

But, Airbnb-style homesharing poses some legitimate legal and safety concerns for its hosts, neighbors, and associations as a whole. Mauri Peyton, an attorney and founding member of the community association law firm of PeytonBolin in Fort Lauderdale, says “Due to the quick rise in popularity of short-term rental sites like Airbnb, very few associations have existing restrictions that deal with these rentals specifically. If an association lacks rental restrictions of any sort, or its rental restrictions are geared more towards traditional rentals, the association may have no ability to control such short term rentals."

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