The right to rent your unit has undergone some change over the years. It all started in a landmark case called Woodside v. Jahren which was ruled upon by The Florida Supreme Court in 2002. A condominium in Clearwater amended its declaration of condominium to suddenly prohibit the rental of your unit to no more than nine (9) months in any twelve (12) month period. Mr. Jahren had been renting out several of his units for nearly twenty (20) years and he sued the association, seeking a ruling from the court that this amendment was illegal because it took away a vested right he had to rent his unit all year long. The Florida Supreme Court disagreed.
Basically, The Florida Supreme Court ruled that despite the fact that the declaration of condominium originally allowed Mr. Jahren to rent his units, he was on notice that the unit owners had the authority to amend the governing documents to prohibit renting in the future. In simple terms, The Florida Supreme Court opined that if a super majority of owners in a condominium can finally agree on something, the courts should not stand in the way, unless the amendment violated a constitutional right of an owner. Since there was no Constitutional right to rent your unit, the amendment which limited rentals was affirmed by The Florida Supreme Court.
This did not sit well with one Florida Supreme Court Justice who thought it was unfair for Mr. Jahren to lose this valuable property right after so many years, and she urged The Florida Legislature to ensure a fairer system was put in place. So, in 2004 The Florida Legislature passed the following law in regards to condominiums only:
FS 718.110(13) Any amendment restricting unit owners’ rights relating to the rental of units applies only to unit owners who consent to the amendment and unit owners who purchase their units after the effective date of that amendment.
So, as of 2004 if your declaration gave you the right to rent your unit, that right could not be taken away from you during your ownership, unless you specifically voted in favor of such an amendment to your declaration of condominium. Once you sell however, your buyer becomes stuck with that restriction. That remains the law today.
Over the years I have heard a million arguments both for and against the rental of units and homes. Many people think that owner occupied communities are less likely to suffer from a foreclosure problem. I don’t know. It seems to me that lots of people lost their homestead property during the recent foreclosure crisis. In fact, some owners were begging the Board to please let them rent their unit in order to avoid the unit slipping into foreclosure. Many Boards still said NO. Then, these same associations foreclosed on some units and took back title to several units. Now the association wanted to rent out the unit each month. Was the association bound by the same rental limitations as all of the owners? Of course they were. But that didn’t stop many of them.