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Zoning could be a legal issue for short-term Florida rentals

Investing in real estate is a great way to make your accumulated wealth work for you. Unfortunately, as with any other investment, it can be difficult to predict what real estate investments will offer the best potential return. Many people look toward current trends as a way of determining where to best invest their assets.

The short-term rental of residential properties has become a lucrative occupation for some real estate investors, with multiple websites helping to connect property owners with potential vacation renters.

With so many amusement parks and beautiful beaches, Florida is a prime site for short-term rental Investments. Unfortunately, local zoning laws can impact your rights to turn a residential property into a short-term rental. Zoning laws will look to protect the property rights of those already living in the community, which can include limiting commercial or rental activity.

Zoning compliance is critical to business success

If you purchase a property and invest in upgrades to create ongoing rental income, issues with zoning could mean losing out on your investments in the property, as well as the hope of semi-passive income in the future. If the local zoning board restricts usage in your area or limits the number of short-term rentals in the community, you may not be able to list your unit for rent as you had hoped.

Zoning non-compliance can result in fines and additional legal action to prevent you from violating the zoning ordinance. Renting in an area not properly zoned for such actions could end up costing you more money than you make.

In some cases, it may be possible for property owners to ask for a variance in local zoning if they have a property they believe they would like to purchase that is not currently zoned in a manner friendly to short-term rentals. However, you should make sure to address zoning issues before you commit to a real estate contract.

If you make a purchase offer, include zoning in the contingencies

Every real estate contract has certain limits that can invalidate the offer or purchase agreement before the closing. Whether it's the failure of a property to pass an inspection or a potential issue with zoning, these deal breakers can save buyers who might otherwise invest in the property that does not meet their needs. If you intend to use a property as a short-term rental, you should include language indicating that the sale is contingent on zoning allowing you to use the property as intended.

Protecting yourself in this process and negotiating with local town officials or zoning board professionals often requires experience in these complex areas of law. Working with an experienced real estate attorney can help you navigate the complex waters of becoming a short-term rental landlord.

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