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Court Addresses HOA Attempt to Restrict Short Term Rentals

Former Counsel
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By:  Kevin J. Parker

In a recent case, the Texas Supreme Court addressed an attempt by a homeowners’ association (“HOA”) to restrict short-term rentals based upon recorded Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (“CC&Rs”) applicable to a residential subdivision. The property was a single-family home. The homeowner rented the home through websites such as VRBO. The HOA issued notices of violation; the homeowner kept renting; the HOA assessed fines against the property. The property owner then sought a declaration from the court that the CC&Rs did not impose a minimum duration on occupancy or leasing. The trial court agreed with the HOA. The Texas Court of Appeals also agreed with the HOA. The Texas Supreme Court reversed, holding that the CC&Rs, as properly interpreted, did not prohibit short-term rentals. In arriving at its holding, the Texas Supreme Court analyzed the CC&Rs in detail and came to an interpretation different than the trial court and the Court of Appeals.

The lesson from this case is that whether and how an HOA can restrict short-term rentals depends on a number of factors, including the specific language in the applicable CC&Rs. Another common dispute is whether a certain percentage of property owners can amend the CC&Rs to prohibit short-term rentals.