As a Board or strata council member, it is critical that you have a firm understanding of your building’s by-laws – in this case, how they address apartment leasing. If the language regarding length terms is unclear or not specifically addressed, consult with your association attorney or outside counsel before making changes.
If you discover that a homeowner or shareholder has rented out their unit on a short-term basis, impose a fine – in some buildings, penalties can range as high as $1,000 per night, plus charge-backs for the building’s legal fees if such action is necessary for compliance.
Instruct the front-desk team and all other staff to forbid strangers or unauthorized guests to enter the building unless the owner is present or written authorization is obtained from the managing agent. If unauthorized guests are already in the building, due diligence is critical (see below).
While a crucial role of your front desk staff is to track all building visitors, it is especially critical that they compile detailed information on short-term renters – this can serve as prima facie evidence if legal action is taken against the unit owner or shareholder. Some property management company utilize management software for this purpose. For example, FirstService Residential’s custom management software, FirstService Residential Connect, captures comprehensive information about all building visitors, including their name, a photo, contact information, whom they’re visiting and how long they are permitted to stay. The system also notifies the front desk and management teams of each guest’s presence and provide alerts them the visitation period is scheduled to expire.
Education and training are key to building awareness and consensus among staff members and residents. Provide proper training to all building staff members to ensure they understand best practices for dealing with suspicious or unauthorized guests – your property management company may be able to conduct this training or provide resources.
In addition, alert building unit owners, residents and stakeholders about the potential risks and problems associated with illegal short term rentals, and encourage them to notify the managing agent, resident manager, superintendent or other management team members if they discover unauthorized visitors in the building. You can hold special meetings for this purpose, or communicate with residents through email blasts, letters, newsletters and phone notification systems, such as FirstService Residential’s Resident Alert.
The growth of Airbnb and similar home-sharing sites continues to impact multi-family buildings, but taking steps to reduce the practice and its risks can help protect the safety of your residents, as well as the value of their investment. For more information about maintaining your homeowners’ quality of life, contact FirstService Residential.