Another JPS win on short-term rentals
On June 14, 2012, a judge in Travis County, Texas clarified a prior grant of summary judgment in favor of my client on the issue of short-term rentals. Under a basic grant of the leasing right under a subdivision declaration, the trial court ruled that whole-house rentals to one family at a time are a residential use, not a business use. The clarification of the prior order completely guts an HOA's attempt to take away both short term and long-term rental rights from owners of the subdivision.
The Briarcliff Homeowners Association, in Travis County, sued my client for engaging in short-term rentals. The HOA argued that despite an express leasing right in the restrictive covenants (declaration), owners who do not claim their Briarcliff home as their homestead or otherwise use it as their primary residence are not allowed to rent. Why? Because renting a property allows the owner to derive income, which means the owner is a business. A full recitation of the HOA's arguments, and the arguments refuting same, can be found here. The HOA's ban on rentals by non-homestead owner would in effect deny anyone who owns a Briarcliff lakeside home as their vacation home to rent it out when they're not using it. The restrictive covenants, however, contain no such limitations, and certainly don't contain an owner-occupancy clause. The HOA had already seen its short-term-rental ban invalidated in March, 2012, but the HOA amended its lawsuit to expressly include as a separate legal claim (though it had previously made the argument and lost) that a renter is a "business" when he rents out his home. The June 14, 2012 order modified the March 14, 2012 order to make clear that an express leasing right can't be taken away by claiming that leasing in the classic sense -- whole house rentals to one family -- is a "business use."