With the growing popularity of websites like airbnb.com and vrbo.com, we are often asked about the process of offering a home as a short-term rental or vacation home. As it turns out, the process can be a bit more difficult than it seems and often times, a violation of zoning and codes for a neighborhood or subdivision if a Home Owners Association is present.
1.The Master Deed, Declaration, and/or Rules and Regulations of the particular HOA in which your residence belongs may prohibit short-term leasing. This might be done by including a minimum lease term of one+ months, which would hinder an owner’s ability to offer the property as a rental for any trip shorter than a month (i.e. long weekend or week-long travel).
2. Use of property for short-term rentals may be interpreted as a commercial use because a short-term renter is not establishing the property as his or her personal residence. Many Association legal documents specifically prohibit the use of units within their development for anything other than residential purposes.
3. Offering property as a short-term/vacation rental may be in violation of local zoning codes. Zoning codes and ordinances often times list all permitted land uses for a specific property within a zoning district. Property owners should check with their zoning codes to ensure that there is no prohibition of use for “vacation rental homes” or “short-term rental properties.”
For example: in Nashville, the Metro Zoning Code for Davidson County does not have a specific land use designation for short-term rental or vacation properties, however it does designate land use for a “Boarding House” (defined under the code as “a residential facility or a portion of a dwelling unit for the temporary accommodation of persons or families in a rooming unit, whether for compensation or not, who are in need of lodging, personal services, supervision, or rehabilitative services. Further, a “Dwelling unit” can be defined as “a single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.”
With that being stated, it could be said that property being considered for short-term rental in the Nashville area must be located within a zoning district where a “Boarding House” is permitted. Utilizing property as such without approval as permissible by the zoning and codes department could result in fines and penalties and even a misdemeanor.
With short-term rental and vacation homes growing in popularity as a method of traveling, perhaps local governments within the greater Nashville area will consider altering and amending their zoning codes to provide a more comprehensive and progressive land use classification that addresses land uses such as vacation and short-term rental homes. In the meantime, be sure to check with your HOA and local government officials before offering your property as such.