COVID-19

Increase in Demand for Long-term Rentals in 2020

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
Increase in Demand for Long-term Rentals in 2020
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Recently, searches on our site for monthly or longer stays have spiked 128% over the same period last year!  Many of them are for multiple-week stays starting as early as the beginning of May.

Why?

  • There is no ban on stays of 32 days or longer as they are not considered “short-term rentals.” So, even if the ban on short-term rentals is extended, it does not impact longer-term rentals.
  • Many states, including Massachusetts, have cancelled school for the remainder of this school year. So, families are now able to make plans without worrying that their kids might be resuming classes soon.
  • In addition to kids not going to school, many adults are working remotely, which they can do at a rental home.
  • After being cooped up in the house for months, vacationers are likely to feel that a week is just not enough!
  • Whether legally enforced or not, it’s clear that social distancing and sheltering in place are vital to protecting ourselves. What better, safer, more enjoyable place is there to do so than the Cape and Islands?  Within an easy drive for millions of people, they provide beauty, open spaces, and access to kayaking, biking, walking, and eventually swimming.
  • Don’t forget, rentals of 32 days or longer are exempt from the lodging tax!

What are the advantages to you?

The obvious advantage to homeowners is the ability to recoup some of the rental revenue that will undoubtedly be lost this year due to the coronavirus.  But other advantages of fewer turnovers include not having to clean/disinfect on a weekly basis and not having as many bookings to deal with and leases to send out.  The reduced turnover of vacationers in multiple-week rentals also causes less of an impact on the community: with fewer travelers, there’s less opportunity for contagion as well as less traffic.

Keep in mind, however, that longer-term renters tend to hunker down at a home, not dine out as frequently, and might be a little harder on a home.

What can homeowners do?

If any of you don’t normally offer your homes until late June,  try to get your spring cleaning done as soon as possible in order to make your home available sooner.  (See our posts about Cleaning in the Time of COVID-19 and Tips for a Thorough Spring Cleaning).

Also:

  • If your home is ready, or you are confident that it will be soon, open up your listing’s calendar now.
  • Advertise promotions to attract spring or fall season and multiple-week rentals either in your listing title or by using our free Owner Special feature. Promote the fact that you’re open to longer stays, offering a discount, and that there’s no tax for 32+ days, etc.
  • Enter monthly pricing on your Calendar, and also add your listing to our Long-term Directory (for free) using the field near the bottom of your “Description, amenities” page.
  • Offer as much flexibility as you can in terms of your cancellation policy and arrival/departure dates and times. (Read more.) Homeowners who relax their policies will be more successful in filling their homes, especially now while there is so much uncertainly. If possible, assure weekly renters that, if the ban is not lifted, you will refund all of their monies.
  • If your home is family-friendly, be sure to market it that way on your listing.
  • Consider provisioning your home more generously with things like cleaners/disinfectants, extra bedding, a hair dryer, vacuum and trash bags, etc.
  • Increase the amount of your security deposit to protect against the added wear and tear on a home from longer-length stays, as mentioned above.
  • Be sure to use a regular, long-term rental lease rather than our sample short-term one.

Manage your guests’ expectations

It’s vitally important to be aware of certain issues prior to committing to a long-term booking:

  • Their experience here this year will NOT be typical of any previous visits! Most large events have been or will be cancelled. Dining out will likely be very different and possibly limited to take-out and delivery. Shopping, too, may be restricted.
  • If renters are coming from out-of-state, they are currently required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.  This will be in effect until the ban is lifted.
  • Even if not required to self-quarantine, it’s very important for guests to take every precaution possible to protect not only themselves but the community they are visiting.
  • The Cape and Islands have a very limited infrastructure, especially during the off seasons. This includes emergency services and medical personnel already taxed to the max, very limited bed space in the few hospitals they have, shortages of food and supplies, diminished staffing, etc.
  • Suggest that your long-term guests bring as many provisions from their homes as possible, including food, medicines, and linens.
  • Consider allowing pets for guests who stay for multiple weeks.

Whether for short-term, weekly bookings or longer ones, revisit your listing to make sure that it adequately reflects this new coronavirus reality. And be ready to take advantage of what we hope to be a lot of last-minute, pent-up demand from vacationers.

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for WeNeedaVacation.com since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and have managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation.com, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family since the 1920’s. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV.com Homeowner Support Team, I am particularly involved with our new listers, providing assistance with the sign-up process and advice about how to create the most effective listing to ensure their booking success with us. I have recently taken over our press and public relations needs. And, with owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the content on our website, our monthly newsletters, and the blog posts. My husband and I live in Wellesley where we have raised our 2 grown kids and our Black Lab, Maisie. Email Elizabeth

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