Renting in Non-Condo Homeowner Associations
By Brian P. McLean, Leahy.ps
In Washington State, there is no blanket restriction in RCW 64.38 (HOA Act) on either the rental of single-family homes or the authority of the homeowner association to restrict rentals. The obvert authority to enforce such restraints would arise in the association’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (the “contract” between the owners regarding governance, enforcement, and behavior).
Let’s assume that your non-condo community doesn’t have the authority to limit rentals outright but has or expects rentals to be part of the association’s life. Community Associations Institute (www.caionline.org) has very good resources available on a number of topics, including rentals, but those resources, like Washington’s statutes, are heavily weighted toward condominium-type common ownership.
In a non-condominium association, the adoption of a written rental policy outlining what’s expected from all parties would be an obvious first step. Such a policy would address background checks, occupant identification, and tenant conduct.
A written rental policy is both a legal solution and a rental solution. It’s partly legal, because it would incorporate what your communities’s Declaration (or master deed) says about restrictions on use, and translate that into an enforceable policy. It’s partly political, because the success of such a policy (or many policies for that matter) warrants the open exchange of ideas between owners before the policy is adopted and enforced. A word of caution: in Washington State an outright restriction on rentals may be unenforceable if found only in a written policy, and your association should consult with legal counsel before adopting and enforcing a rental restriction policy.