So, here's what happened to me...I purchased a home with an FHA loan, and because I prefer to have all of my bills sent to my PO Box rather than my home for payment, I called the lender and asked to have the billing information changed to the PO box address from the home address. I was quickly reminded by customer service that I must live in the home, and may not rent the property. I was actually surprised that anyone really cared whether I lived in the home or not, but apparently, they do, so I left the billing address as the home address for now.
When I talked with my colleague and mortgage broker about this, he commented that FHA lenders are being extra careful to follow all of the lending guidelines, so it is certainly conceivable that lenders will be watching for changes of address or other signals that might indicate that the owner's ability to pay might in some way be jeopardized. A change of billing address is the first and most obvious sign that the owner has moved from the property, and the second--in your case--would be confirmation from the homeowners association that you no longer live at the home.
As I understand it, there are certainly circumstances under which you can move from the property and rent it out, but these circumstances almost always involve a "hardship" that makes moving a necessity (such as being transferred by your employer to another location or losing your job and find another one in another city)
Since we're both very lucky to have received loans to purchase our homes, I would suggest not tempting fate by violating any of the terms of your loan agreement at this time. Although your lender may never check to see if you moved out of the residence, keep in mind that if the lender does find that you've violated any of the loan provisions, the lender can accelerate your loan payments (make you pay for everything at one time) or, in the extreme, foreclose--neither option is, in my opinion, worth the risk.
My suggestion is that you enjoy your home for now, and look to a refinance out of an FHA loan at a later date if you still wish to rent.
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty