Hurricane Ian Damaged Our Short Term Rental To The Tune of 6 months Lost Rent.

Short term rental

We invested in this condo unit in Bonita Springs, Florida in 2019 to predominantly be a short term rental property, and when it wasn’t rented, then we’d have the luxury of using it ourselves. 

This Short Term Rental is a 910 square foot Condo with 2 bedrooms, and 2 full baths.  It’s within walking distance to beaches and restaurants, has it’s own private boat dock for residents and guests, and a stunning 3rd floor porch overlooking Little Hickory Bay. 

Here is a little video we put together for our prospective Short Term Rental Tenants. 

 

The X’s and O’s of our Short Term Rental

We use Air B & B and VRBO to help us find some good tenants, and for 3 years, it’s worked beautifully.  We were making enough to cover our mortgage, taxes, insurance, HOA fee, stick some back in the emergency fund, and still go visit it once a year..  And, the revenue it generated came from renting it only during ‘season’ which was October through April.

This is my first experience with an HOA, as a real estate investor.  I’m still on the fence if I’d invest in another property with an HOA, I know there is value, but as of now it’s been one assessment after another.  

Benefits of an HOA.

Like I said, I am still trying to weigh the value of being in an investment where a 3rd party is involved in the performance of the asset.  I typically prefer less hands in the pot, with regard to my investments.  However, there are some benefits to associating with an HOA such as:

  1. The HOA facilitates the maintenance of the grounds.
  2. They negotiate and secure insurance for the structure.
  3. The HOA creates bylaws and enforces the rules which were voted on.
  4. They are a liaison for contractors in the event of an insurance claim (more on that later)
  5. The HOA can have greater access to professional services and have stronger negotiating power.
  6. They have the power of group-think.

While I’m on the subject, and in an effort of full transparency, here are some disadvantages of our HOA

  1. As a short term rental owner, the HOA gets to dictate the terms of a tenants stay.
  2. They don’t allow pets of any kind.
  3. They react slower than I would if I were self-managing it.
  4. If they wanted to forbid short term rentals and put us landlords out of business, they could bring it up for a vote.

One of the most impactful disadvantages of our HOA has been that they have a say in who we select as a tenant.

Here is how that works:  All potential Short Term Rental Tenants must complete a background check, which the HOA facilitates.  If they see something they don’t like, they can deny occupancy.  

And this happened to us.  We had a prospective tenant who by all accounts would be a fine tenant.  But, he had a misdemeanor from 20 years prior, which caused the HOA to deny his rental.  We appealed it, and ultimately he was allowed to rent from us, but this is just too restrictive.  The HOA userps our power to determine if the tenant will be a good fit.  This makes my blood boil, and from my perspective, makes it a clear disadvantage of having an HOA.    

How our HOA saved the day.

Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida in September, causing upwards of 60 Billion dollars in damages throughout the state. 

Many, many people’s lives and property were destroyed, in a matter of 11 hours.  The wake of Hurricane Ian will forever change the landscape of Southwest Florida.  Our condo, and the other 59 units, by some divine intervention were spared from the lion’s share of Ian’s wrath.  The ‘why’ may never be determined.

Here are a few reasons some of the owners explain the ‘Why’:

Maybe it was the 12 foot clearance between the 1st floor and the parking lot, which experienced a 10 foot water surge, but didn’t get high enough to damage any units.

Maybe it was the structures block foundation, or its ‘200-mile-per-hour-rated’ hurricane shutters. Or, maybe it was simply that a higher power was looking after us..  At this point, I have to believe, all these variables played a role.

The HOA sprung into action.

Most of the residents of the complex are ‘snowbirds’ or are like us, own their condo as a Short Term Rental investment and rent it out.  Because Ian decided to hit at the end of September, It wasn’t ‘season’ yet, so most people weren’t in town.. 

There were a few key members of the HOA board in the area (not sure if they weathered the storm or came back immediately afterwards) but nevertheless, they were able to provide the ‘boots on the ground’ intel we so desperately needed as condo owners.  This proved to be an exceptional benefit of having an HOA. 

Here is the list of damages our Condo Building sustained from Hurricane Ian’s wrath :

  • Our Main Electrical panel located in a secure room in the lower level parking area, was completely submerged from the 10 foot storm surge.  Fixed after 2 months.
  • The ‘brains’ of the Fire Suppression System were submerged in the 10 foot water surge, rendering the whole system inoperable.  Supply chain issues, installation delays, and city inspections have slowed the repair process immensely.  Estimated completion date: Late January 2023.
  • The pool was underwater, schools of fish had made a new home in the pool after the water subsided.  Pool was drained and refilled, and is now fully operational.  
  • Meeting rooms and pool bathrooms were completely destroyed.  Estimated completion date March 2023.

Because of the danger the submerged electrical panel created, no one was allowed on the condo grounds for nearly 45 days!  Someone in our HOA was friends with a fireman who was able to inform them of the extent of the electrical damage.  Had we not had that, we may still be questioning why we weren’t allowed on the property.  This was a clear benefit of having a HOA.

The lasting financial effects on our Short Term Rental. 

10 days before Ian struck we welcomed a new Short Term Rental Tenant who was going to be staying until December 1st.  When her lease was up, we had another one scheduled to move in for January and February.  Then another one for March.  

The rental income from these three tenants would have covered our expenses for the entirety of 2023.

But, because of the wrath of Ian which rendered the building unsafe for its residents, we will lose all income prior to February 1.  And, February is an optimistic time-frame to be able to get a tenant in our unit.

With HOA assessments, increased insurance costs, and increased taxes due to the rise in property values, and now Ian with it’s loss of rental income, this has been a 1-2-3 punch we didn’t see coming. 

Fortunately we have an emergency fund, and both my wife and I have jobs which will allow us to self fund the Short Term Rental until we can have tenants safely return.

In conclusion

The short term rental market is booming, many people prefer to rent a private owners property as opposed to a hotel room.  I see this trend continuing, but my personal feeling going forward if I do buy another short term rental, is to do so, free of an HOA.  I’m still in the camp of; ‘the advantages outweigh the disadvantages’ but if the assessments from Hurricane Ian mount up, then my tune may change.  What are your feelings with the value provided by HOA’s? 

Other Real Estate Investing Posts I’ve written:

Find out how A Land Survey allowed me to make $50K

Or, How this Sale Leaseback Agreement brought the Seller to tears.

Real Estate Investing posts from around the Blogosphere.

Yes!  You can live oversees and invest in Real Estate.  Coach Carson at coachcarson.com

How much should you have in an Emergency Fund as a Real Estate Investor?  G. Brian Davis at Sparkrental.com

 

2 thoughts on “Hurricane Ian Damaged Our Short Term Rental To The Tune of 6 months Lost Rent.”

  1. Some newer HOAs can be very difficult but a lot of the older HOAs don’t have any language about short term rentals. Just need to watch out for them changing the rules!

    I had an AirBnB in a tourist area and it was really nice to have for a while. It got a bit difficult to manage so I eventually let it go though.

    1. Thanks Eric, I’m afraid to see what ultimately results with the HOA fees after the dust settles from the hurricane. We are likely long this property since we have family in the area, so we shall see.

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