Q: We have a unit owner who is leasing contrary to our documents and without Board approval. Our rules allow no more than three leases a year. We have approved three lease periods for a minimum of 30 days this year but advised the owner that after these leases no further leases would be approved until January 2020. The unit concerned now has a family staying there who claim “the owner is allowing them to stay there 3 months for free”. There is little doubt that the owner has told the tenants to say this. What action can we take against the owner to prevent him breaking the rules?
L.B., Marco Island
A: When owners and occupants are willing to lie to skirt the rules, it makes enforcement very difficult. A long-term solution is to amend your governing documents to provide that all “guests” occupying a home without the owner for a period of more than 30 days are automatically deemed lessees and must comply with leasing restrictions or be evicted. In this case if your governing documents do not contain any non-paying guest occupancy restrictions you really cannot pursue eviction just based on a “suspicion”. Often times tenants will also talk to neighbors and let slip that they are actually paying rent, so I suggest you do a little investigation in this regard. Also, check for listings on the popular rental websites. Often you will find that the owner is advertising for rentals and the reservation calendar will show dates and rates of availability including the current occupant’s dates. This is pretty strong circumstantial evidence that the Owner is indeed renting the home. If you find evidence that the “guests” are actually paying rent, then you can have your legal counsel challenge the owner and the occupants claims.
John C. Goede Esq. is co-founder and shareholder of the Law firm Goede, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. T o ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: email@example.com. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.