ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As more investment companies and individuals purchase homes across Central Florida, an Orange County homeowner’s association approved a proposal restricting new property owners from renting their homes for the first 13 months.
The Waterford Lakes Community Association passed the amendment to restrict long-term rentals on Saturday, Aug. 6, according to WLCA general counsel Matt Firestone.
Alvin Little, the president of WLCA, said he remembers moving into Waterford Lakes nearly three decades ago.
“I’ve been here since 1993. I’ve watched this community grow into something really phenomenal,” Little said.
The east Orange County community has grown to 3,100 homes made up of 25 individual neighborhoods. The community offers residents several amenities, including a pool, pickle ball courts and much more.
“Waterford has a real good family vibe,” Little said.
Little said he wants to protect the community, the goal of the HOA being to maintain property values.
But a few months ago, he noticed a trend of companies and individual investors purchasing properties to turn into rentals and not taking care of the homes.
“We started seeing a lot more rentals and it was really hard to get a hold of these people to find out who is maintaining the property, who is doing this, who is paying the dues, what’s going on,” Little said.
According to real estate brokerage Redfin, investors purchased 25% of the homes sold in metro Orlando during the first quarter of 2022. Orlando ranked in the top 10 US metros for percentage of homes bought by investors.
As for Waterford Lakes, Firestone said that led to some challenges.
“Didn’t have phone number, email, contact person and it was becoming a problem,” Firestone said.
That is why the HOA proposed and approved an amendment that restricts new property owners from renting their homes for at least 13 months. The amendment does not apply to current property owners who are renting their homes.
Firestone, who also represents other neighborhood associations, said this is all about balancing property rights and home values.
“On the one hand, we don’t want to infringe upon somebody’s right to rent the property out if that’s how they want to make some income, but you have to balance that against the interest of the neighborhood as a whole in making sure the property’s maintained,” Firestone said.
Little also hopes this will level the playing field and give families a better shot at purchasing homes instead of investors. Little added he believes other communities could follow similar rental restrictions.
“If we restrict them, they’re going to (go) somewhere else, so other communities will probably start looking at it and hopefully they’ll use us as a role model,” Little said.
Firestone said anyone violating the rule will have to pay half of the rent received to the HOA.
The neighborhoods voted on the proposed amendment on Saturday, Aug. 6.
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