The State’s restrictions and guidance on short-term vacation rentals have been fairly general and vague. Thus, homeowners are left to interpret much of the guidance as they see fit – with the express goal of protecting themselves, their guests, and their service providers from contracting or spreading the virus.
In addition, most homeowners understand the importance, during a pandemic or not, of providing their guests with a great experience while staying in their homes. This year, more than ever, communications prior to arrival and concern for their guests’ safety have taken on increased importance.
Many of you have been interested in knowing what other homeowners are doing this season due to the pandemic. With nearly 800 responses, here are the results of our recent survey.
Are you still renting this summer?
74% said they are still renting this summer, but 7% said they are taking the summer off from renting but plan to rent again in the future; 3.5% are renting only every other week; and 3.5% are renting only long-term (one month+).
Many are either renting long-term rentals or reducing their number of rentals to either just 2 weeks total for the season or few rentals with open times in between.
How much time are you leaving between guests?
About 1/3 of respondents aren’t changing their turnover times, 1/3 are adding an hour or more, others are spacing out their guests by days or even a week or more.
How are you handling linens between stays?
1/3 say they have never provided linens, and another 30% say they have multiple sets and will alternate them this year. 12% are laundering their linens between guests, and around 14% are asking their guests to bring their own.
How are you handling bedspreads and blankets?
The majority of HO’s (40%) have duplicates of bedspreads and blankets and will alternate them between guests, and the rest will either have them laundered between guests like linens or have removed them altogether.
What extra measures are you taking beyond the requirements of the Mass.gov?
In addition to the requirements of Mass.gov, most HO’s (82%) are leaving cleaning supplies, providing disinfecting products (74%), leaving hand sanitizers and/or disinfecting wipes (67%), changing pillow protectors (48%), and providing paper plates and/or plasticware (21%).
How many cancellations did you receive due to COVID-19? How many were re-booked?
The average number of cancellations due to COVID-19 per rental is 3.
Of those, the average number of bookings that they have been able to rebook is a little over 2.
How have you handled cancellations?
The vast majority of HO’s (67%) offered cancelled guests a full refund. Another 24% allowed deferred vacations until 2021, and only 4% offered no refund unless rebooked per their original lease agreement.
What communications do you send to your guests?
77% of HO’s sent their guests information on how they are handling COVID-19 for their rental homes. 32% sent or re-sent a lease with an indemnification clause, and 12% are sending an additional Addendum to their leases with an indemnification clause. 26% are providing their guests with a list of restaurants with outdoor dining and/or take-out, and 25% are sending a Welcome Book electronically prior to their guests’ arrivals.
In addition to the safety requirements and recommendations from the state, what are you doing differently this year?
Open responses to the last question ran the gamut from “Nothing” or “Just praying!” to “Not renting” and “Providing a week between guests.” Most mentioned taking extraordinary measures to both clean and disinfect, communicating more than usual with their guests to inform and reassure them, and some are hiring new or additional cleaners.