FGCU Basketball Stadium

Vacation Condo Student Dorm Amalgam - Real Estate

Since Florida Gulf Coast University opened its doors parents have been investing in real estate in the Estero and Bonita Springs area to house their students.

It’s been a few years since having a kid go to school in Southwest Florida was a spring board for a retirement home or vacation condo. The market near the school picked up a few weeks ago and the searches have begun for parents who realize that they are about to start writing rental checks for student housing this fall.

While parents get excited about the prospect of purchasing a home or condo for their student there may be a few hiccups in their plan. The typical parent is usually stoked at the prospect of owning the home for a period of four or five years minimum, housing their own child and putting the friends of said child in each of the bedrooms to underwrite expenses.

For most it’s a nearly perfect plan to get a good chunk of the retirement condo paid for by renting to students. The reality of the situation is that the majority of homeowner associations and condominium associations have deed restrictions, bylaws and a frequently asked questions page that address the issue. The frequently asked questions usually cover the big items that folks are looking for; pet restrictions, minimum rental term restrictions and commercial/recreational vehicle restrictions but there are a whole bunch of other restrictions that are addressed that could throw a monkey wrench into the plan.

The biggest restrictions in renting to students are usually limited number of vehicles and limited number of tenants permitted to live in the same residence. Yes, limited number of tenants. Just because a home has three or four bedrooms doesn’t mean an owner is permitted to rent each of them out. The majority of homeowner association or condominium documents preclude owners from renting a residence to more than two tenants that are not blood relatives.

There are plenty of people, at this very moment, exceeding the tenant limit. They just haven’t been caught and the rules haven’t been enforced yet. There are several communities or complexes that were built right at the time that the housing industry took the downward turn. The majority of owners in those communities were investors, some with multiple units, who ended up stuck with a vacant condo and started stacking up students to try to underwrite their losses.

In the confusing wake of investor overload a lot of neighborhood communities were over run with undocumented tenants and little to no organization by the association or their management companies. That is all changing and changing fast. In an effort for a lot of these communities to stabilize they’ve cracked down on the rules, most especially rental restrictions.

Sneaking tenants buy the association management and the neighbors who are sick of their neighborhood being Grand Central Station isn’t going to fly anymore.

With low real estate prices and low interest rates, it’s not a bad plan to buy a vacation or retirement condo to house your student and rent a room to one of their friends. Just don’t expect to run it like a bed and breakfast with the anticipation of cash flow.


Real Life in Bonita Springs is a project by Chris Griffith dedicated to writing useful blog posts for consumers about the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  Find out what it is really like to live in Bonita Springs, Florida by reading about our fair city. You’ll get the latest in local real estate information, Bonita Springs real estate market reports and a little bit of humor.  If you have topic ideas, feel free to request a story about the idea, after all, this site is just for you.

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