Short-term rentals’ language in declarations

RB writes:

Dear Paul: We are a small condo and most of our owners want to find a way to prevent short term rental by current or future owners. We are considering revising our Declaration to include wording to that effect. Does anyone out there have appropriate wording that we can add to our Declaration?

Paul replies:

RB: You bring about an interesting question. If there was a public repository of Declarations, Bylaws and Rules it would be easy to conduct a search for language that you are looking for. Unfortunately, there is not. Let me preface my comments with the assumption that you have conducted a thorough review of your governing documents (the Act, the Declaration, the Bylaws, and the Rules). I would be surprised if in your review you did not find wording that would support your desire to prevent short-term rentals.

Most Declarations, Bylaws or Rules contain language similar if not identical to the following:

“Each unit shall be occupied and used only as a private single-family residence and for no other purpose.”

“the units are for residential use only. No business that results in any customer or third party traffic shall be permitted on any part of the property.”

“No unit shall be used by anyone in such a manner to interfere unreasonably with the enjoyment and use of the common elements and the other units.”

Courts have rendered favourable decisions regarding these statements contained in a condo’s documents.

If your documents do not contain this language, I would suggest that you have your lawyer assist you in determining the best way to seek an amendment.

In an Ontario 2016 decision Judge Robert Beaudoin (2016 ONSC 7699) wrote:

“Single family use” cannot be interpreted to include one’s operation of a hotel-like business, with units being offered to complete strangers on the internet, on a repeated basis, for durations as short as a single night. Single family use is incompatible with the concepts of “check in” and “check out” times, “cancellation policies”, “security deposits”, “cleaning fees”, instructions on what to do with dirty towels/sheets and it does not operate on credit card payments.”

In other words, courts have compared short-term rentals to operating a hotel.

The other item that the courts have considered is that if rentals are considered, they should be for a period of not less than four (4) months. This period still allows owners to rent their suite and avoids much of the traffic generated by strangers coming and going on a frequent basis.

As you know, it may be a challenge to get enough of your owners to agree to change the Declaration. In the alternative you may consider it easier to create a Rule to cover the same ground. Regards!

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