HOA's have to follow their own by-laws or have them amended. Make sure you've thoroughly reviewed and understand the bylaws. If your HOA has a property management company, contact them and ask for clarification.
Personally I would not ask them. Read the bylaws carefully. If there's no mention of it, do it. But remember, they can change it anytime they like so have an exit plan. And, make friends with your neighbors. They are the ones who will cause trouble for you by complaining to the HOA and the police.
If you intend to operate a business in a property with a HOA you better contact them first. To not do so is extremely inconsiderate to your landlord (HOA) and neighbours, it will not go over well. Terrible idea setting up a STR in a HOA property.
If I owned a unit in the building I would do everything possible to shut you down. As a home owner in a HOA there is no way I would put up with others turning it into a hotel.
This is not about rules it is about respect for others.
Agree that setting up a STR in an area with an HOA is a terrible idea. HOA's are nothing but trouble.
But I disagree with your characterization of an HOA as a Landlord, nor is this about respect or consideration for neighbors. The HOA is not your landlord, YOU are your landlord (assuming you own the property). And you will get NO respect or consideration from an HOA for YOUR needs or desires. They will simply act on the by-laws. They are not your friend.
Neighbors are a different matter. If you want to show them respect, go talk to them informally and let them know what you're doing (after checking the bylaws to insure it's allowed). Stay in close contact with them. Deal with guest problems decisively. Send them Christmas cards. Keep the property looking PRISTINE, and keep your guests in line. If they complain to you about a guest problem (noise, whatever) apologize, deal with it, then send them a big gift basket or something.
Better yet, run your STR somewhere without an HOA
I run STRs at properties with HOAs all the time. I'm on the board of two of them.
An HOA is a HomeOwner's Association. As an owner of one of those homes, YOU are part of the HOA. So when you're asking "can they amend the rules", what you really mean is "Can the Board of Directors amend the rules that govern myself and the rest of the HOA".
The short answer is "Of course, as that is one of the jobs that you and the rest of the HOA ask them to do."
The longer answer is "If you are concerned about the bylaws within your HOA, then you should join the board and help to shape them."
If you're not interested in volunteering your time to make your community work in the way you want it to (as opposed to the way others want it to work), I get that. Not everyone has the time available to donate. However, if your business depends on it, perhaps it becomes a higher priority?
Besides, the board may already be full (although there are usually openings, in my experience). But you should at least attend some meetings and let them know you are a homeowner in the community and that you're interested in being an active participant. Make sure to get out in front of any negative thoughts on STRs by providing information about why it's a good thing for your community.
@Nicole Dudley , I would walk cautiously on this. Unless you are going to share your HOA bylaws with the group here I don't think anyone can really answer your question to a good point of clarity. While it may not mention anything specific about STRs, there could be another provision in there that would actually pertain to it somehow.
Let's say however the ByLaws are clearly not specifying any restriction and you already own the property, I'm 50/50 on asking the HOA permission first then. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission in most situations but I also think Thomas makes a good point with regards to keeping good will within the community and your neighbors.
One issue with 'sneaking' an STR in is that once the board finds out they could hastily react with some type of addendum to completely restrict all STRs. Where as if you approach it with transparency and clarity, you might be able to build a policy that works for you and anyone else looking to have an STR. With rules in place to keep the feel of the community in place as much as you can.
Sorry, I know this probably doesn't help answer your question much but it's a good and provocative question for discussion! :)
Best of luck and thanks for asking!