Vacation Rentals in a Pandemic: COVID-19
Governor Charlie Baker announced Phase 2 will begin on Monday, June 8th. Leisure accommodations are allowed to reopen during Phase 2, which includes leisure short-term rentals.
All operators of short-term rentals must comply with the hygiene standards and cleaning requirements for the Massachusetts Safety Standards and Checklists: Operators of Lodging guidelines.
The Safe Summer Initiative
To help our members with reopening their short-term rental properties, we have created several new resources:
- Guidance for Owners and REALTORS®
- A model cleaning plan that meets the Massachusetts Lodging Protocols and Checklist, which is a requirement of all operators of short-term rentals
- Guidance for guests with information about what is open
All resources can be found on our Safe Summer 2020 initiative website.
Just like many places around the country, our economy has been hit hard. We depend on visitors coming and enjoying Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket to make a living - to support our restaurants, our retail stores, and our service industry.
Short-term rental owners and the real estate brokerages that manage them have worked hard to create a safe and healthy environment for our visitors to vacation in. Vacation rentals are the way of life for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket and drive our economy.
To highlight the cleaning and safety initiatives our member brokerages are undertaking, we have launched a microsite, Safe Summer 2020, to promote the steps real estate brokerages and the owners of short-term rentals should be taking in order to create a safe environment for vacation rentals this summer.
This initiative is meant to reassure guests and visitors that professionals across Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket are taking to protect our communities and make them safe - but, at the same time, begin the steps to recover our economy, which depends on short-term rentals.
Short-Term Rental Cancellation Addendum
To assist our members brokering short-term rental contracts for permitted stays, MAR has developed a short-term rental cancellation addendum that may be attached to those lease agreements. This form is not mandatory, but is suggested for members looking for guidance in this area.
This addendum addresses deposits placed on those rentals, and what happens in the event the landlord is unable to provide occupancy or the tenant is unable to travel to the property to take tenancy as a direct result of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
While the form could be used for existing contracts previously signed, it would have to be agreed to by the lessee and the lessor and for that reason is why we suggest using it for new leases moving forward.
Guidance on Cancellations
For those guests who which to cancel their short-term rental stay, the brokerage and homeowners, in consultation, should decide whether to grant a more lenient cancellation. Factors that may weigh into that decision include; customer service practices, availability of funds for refunds, and other business factors.
If you are using the MAR Short-Term Rental Lease, there is no provision that mandates refunds for cancellations; however, that does not preclude you from being more generous with a refund.
Cleaning of Short-Term Rentals
In light of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), there has been a focus on when short-term rentals are allowed again (and for those that are currently exempt from the ban), what cleaning standards will need to be in place. We will continue to provide CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines and advisories for cleaning standards as it relates to short-term rentals.
Watch a recent webinar with Durk Johnson, the executive director of the Vacation Rental Housekeepers Association
The Massachusetts Division of Insurance is directing travelers to guidance from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners related to information about travel insurance and COVID-19: Travel Insurance Information.
Yes. The DPH directive only applies to stays that begin during the Stay at Home and during Phase 1 of reopeningory; however, Phase 2 could be delayed based on health data.
Lodging operators should inform prospective guests of the limitations on lodgings and provide them with or direct them to the list of allowable exceptions.
Lodging operators should reach out to individuals that book reservations on a third-party party website to be certain that these individuals are aware of the restrictions on lodging in Massachusetts.
Lodging operators are required to accept a general self-certification by individuals or families that they fall within one of the allowable exceptions without asking prospective guests to identify the specific exception that applies to their situation.
No. Lodging operators must accept self-certification by individuals or families that their occupancy falls within one of the allowable exceptions. However, they must inform prospective guests of the limitation on lodging and provide with or direct them to the allowable exceptions.
Individuals and families may consider themselves part of a vulnerable population if they have no other residence within or outside the Commonwealth to which they can safely return, or if they would be at risk of homelessness if forced to vacate the lodging unit.
For the purposes of this guidance, the presence of the COVID-19 virus in the community where an individual or family normally resides is not a circumstance that would mean it is unsafe to return.
Moving in of itself is not included in the exemptions; however, there could be scenarios involving moving that would make a short-term rental stay permissible under the allowable exemptions.