J. Patrick Sutton Cases & Issues Blog

More HOA STR bans, and more HOA losses

HOA bans on STR's without clear declaration wording to support such bans still aren't gaining traction. My client won a case last week, I've got another coming up August 20, and another on September 3.
I predicted back in February 2014 that STR litigation would heat up. Boy was I right! I've had three HOA STR ban cases in the past three months. In the first one to go to hearing, my client prevailed against another homeowner in the subdivision. That's the Kendrick v. Siddiqi case in Travis County District Court. I will post the judgment on this site when it's available. Yet again, the party trying to ban STR's presented a muddled argument lumping together unrelated concepts -- nuisance, business use, and the duration of rentals. The question whether an HOA declaration bans STR's is a question about duration, and that's something that can almost always be resolved on the wording of the declaration itself. That is, does the declaration allow the HOA to limit leases by duration or doesn't it?

In cases where an HOA doesn't have any duration-limit wording to support its ban on STR, the HOA's invariably say that all STR's are business uses. But then they trot out evidence concerning my clients' leasing practices. What the contract says and what someone does are unrelated. Whether a contract bans STRs does not require evidence outside the contract to prove. Conversely, whether a declaration allows someone to run a hair salon in their condo unit doesn't mean that STR's are allowed if the declaration says otherwise.

An STR can certainly be a business use in a given instance, but then the HOA just has to prove a breach of contract for that instance. But proving such a breach doesn't take away someone's right to do other STR's that aren't business uses. For example, if a given STR was a trade convention, that's a business use, but not because it's for a short duration. The homeowner may have to pay a fine or be slapped with an injunction in a case like that, but the injunction would be against trade conventions in the home, not STR's.

The point is, when ordinary human beings -- "natural persons" -- rent a dwelling house to live in it, for a day or a week or a lifetime, that's a residential use.

My hottest HOA case is here. I have another in Comal County later this month. They're all basically the same case.
J. Patrick Sutton Cases & Issues Blog