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Condo renters obtain use rights and rules of owners
by: Rob Samouce
We are in season again. Snowbirds and seasonal renters are back among us.

Many condominium owners do not realize that when they rent their unit, the renter, tenant or lessee obtains the unit owner’s use rights to the condominium property, such as the owner’s parking space or storage locker, and use of the common element facilities, such as the pool and clubhouse the same as any other owner.

During the tenancy period, however, the owner has no more right to use the condominium common property than that of a guest. In effect, the renter steps into the shoes of the owner concerning use of the condominium common property.

Section 718.106(4), Florida Statutes provides that: “When a unit is leased, a tenant shall have all use rights in the association property and those common elements otherwise readily available for use generally by unit owners and the unit owner shall not have such rights except as a guest, unless such rights are waived in writing by the tenant. Nothing in this subsection shall interfere with the access rights of the unit owner as a landlord pursuant to Chapter 83. The association shall have the right to adopt rules to prohibit dual usage by a unit owner and a tenant of association property and common elements otherwise readily available for use generally by unit owners.”

In addition, a condominium association cannot adopt rules which would create different standards for renters from the standards governing owners. For instance, you couldn’t say tenants cannot use the pool or park in the parking space assigned to the rented unit. Both renters and owners must be treated the same when enforcing violations of the association’s rules and restrictions.

However, if your declaration of condominium permits the association to evict, the association may be able to evict renters if the renter continues to violate the association’s rules and regulations after notice have been given to them to comply.

In addition, the association can legally go after the owner of the unit for the renter’s violations. Such legal action against the owner could include, in addition to damages, a request for a permanent injunction to prohibit the owner from renting their unit in the future.

Many owners do not realize that they will be personally responsible for their guests and tenants when their guests or tenants break the rules and regulations of the association.

Many times the owners use a renter’s service for seasonal rentals and therefore do not even know who their renters are. However, these out-of-town owners renting their units need to understand that many renters, who rent short term for a week or a month or two, do not have the same concerns for the condominium property as does the full-time or part-time owner.

Let’s face it, they are on vacation and most people like to have a good time on vacation. However, their good times on vacation can many times get out of hand when they start partying and think the condominium should be like a resort hotel.

Although a resort hotel may not mind pool parties late into the night (they sell more drinks and have employees to pick up the debris left at the pool or the clubhouse, such as bottles, cigarette butts and pizza boxes), most private residential condominium association members do mind and don’t want to pick up after others messes.

It is a good idea then that owners, or their renter service companies they use, should educate their renters of the association’s rules and regulations before they arrive to minimize any possible problems. If not, an owner may find out that it has become very expensive for the owner to rent the unit when their renters get out of control and the owner is having to pay the association’s prevailing party attorneys fees in addition to their own if legal action must be brought against them and their tenants for their renter’s inconsiderate behavior.
Rob Samouce, a principal attorney in the Naples law firm of Samouce, Murrell, & Gal, P.A., concentrates his practice in the areas of community associations including condominium, cooperative and homeowners' associations, real estate transactions, closings and related mortgage law, general business law, estate planning, construction defect litigation and general civil litigation. This column is not based on specific legal advice to anyone and is based on principles subject to change from time to time. Those persons interested in specific legal advice on topics discussed in this column should consult competent legal counsel.