Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Santa Monica Beach Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Acord

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

April 28, 2017

SANTA MONICA BEACH PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INCORPORATED, JOE BAILEY, LEW JAMES, CINDY DOOD, JANET DICK-GRACE, ADRIAN HOLMAN, JOYCE HOSKINS, JOHN HUNTER, MARK JAMISON, BARBARA RAMLOW, GARY SALTER, STEVE SANDERS, AND BOB WHITSON, Appellants,
v.
DAVID ACORD AND WIFE, VIRGINIA ACORD, AND WILLIAM C. ALFORD, Appellees.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

         An appeal from the Circuit Court for Bay County. Michael C. Overstreet, Judge.

          Jeffrey P. Whitton, Panama City, for Appellants.

          Robert L. Kauffman of Dunlap & Shipman, P.A., Santa Rosa Beach, for Appellees.

          WETHERELL, J.

         The Santa Monica Beach Property Owners Association and the members of its board of directors (collectively "the Association") appeal the order dismissing the declaratory judgment action in which they alleged that the use of Appellees' properties as short-term vacation rentals violates the covenants restricting the properties' use to residential purposes only and prohibiting their use for business purposes. We affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Appellees own two properties[1] in the Santa Monica Beach subdivision in Bay County. The properties are subject to restrictive covenants which provide in pertinent part:

Said land shall be used only for residential purposes, and not more than one detached single family dwelling house and the usual outhouses thereof, such as garage, servants' house and the like, shall be allowed to occupy any residential lot as platted at any one time; nor shall any building on said land be used as a hospital, tenement house, sanitarium, charitable institution, or for business or manufacturing purposes nor as a dance hall or other place of public assemblage.

(emphasis added).

         In December 2015, the Association sent letters to Appellees stating that "it has been observed that the primary use of your property during 2015 seems to have become VACATION RENTAL; advertised on VRBO[[2]." The letters asserted that this use violated the restrictive covenants and requested that Appellees discontinue the "vacation rental business" on their properties by March 2016. The record does not reflect whether Appellees responded to these letters.

         Thereafter, in July 2016, the Association filed a complaint for declaratory judgment alleging that Appellees' use of their properties violates the restrictive covenants quoted above. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Appellees' properties were being offered and advertised for rent on the internet as transient public lodging establishments;[3] that Appellees were required to collect and remit state sales tax and local bed tax on the rentals; and that the Acords had obtained a license to operate their property as a transient public lodging establishment under the name "Acord Rental."

         Appellees filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action because the uses alleged in the complaint do not violate the restrictive covenants. Specifically, Appellees argued that the short-term vacation rentals were residential uses-and not business uses-because the renters were using the properties for residential purposes: "Critically, the [Association] ha[s] not alleged that the properties are being rented for any purpose other than residential use by residential tenants. . . . [T]he fact that this use is residential in character, and not a commercial or 'business' use, is conclusively established by the fact that [the Association] repeatedly refer[s] to Florida's statute concerning 'public lodging, ' lodging being an inherently residential use of a dwelling" (emphasis in original).

         The trial court agreed and dismissed the complaint.[4] The court reasoned that "[t]he critical inquiry is not the duration of the tenancy, but the character of the actual use of the property by those residing thereon." Additionally, the court explained that because the proper focus is on "the actual use which is undertaken on the property, " the nature of the properties' use is not transformed from residential to business simply because the properties may be subject to a regulatory scheme that requires licensure and Appellees may earn income from the rentals. Finally, the court noted that because the restrictive covenants are silent on the issue of short-term rentals, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.