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[COVID-19 FAQ] What Should I Tell Short-Term Rental Operators?

While there may be less demand for short-term rentals during the COVID-19 pandemic, many hosts are still renting STRs to guests. This may be illegal in places where government leaders have suspended STR ordinances amid the crisis or residents have been ordered to remain home. In other places, government leaders are discouraging nonessential business. For communities without traditional lodging options like hotels or where hotels have closed, STRs may be able to offer necessary lodging for sick and stranded travelers when others cannot. In places requiring sick travelers stay where they are, STR guests may be extending their stay past their scheduled booking.

Whether that means STRs in your community need to suspend operations or not, you will need to communicate with hosts about key COVID-19 messages. Good news! We have your communications to hosts covered. Read on to find letter templates and tips for communicating to hosts during this public health crisis.

[Download Now: The City Leader’s Guide to Short-Term Rentals in a Post-COVID World]

How Do I Communicate With Hosts About STR Closures?

Should your community suspend the ability for hosts to rent out their STRs, you will need to communicate with hosts quickly and effectively. Our experts at Host Compliance, now a part of Granicus, recommend the following language.

******Begin Template******

Dear [[SHORT-TERM RENTAL OPERATOR]],

If you have received this message in error, and you do not have a short-term rental, then please accept our apologies. If you do have a short-term rental, please read the message below.

These are unprecedented times, and our goal is to get accurate and reliable information to as many people as possible. With confirmed community spread of COVID-19 in [[YOUR CITY/COUNTY]], [[STATE/PROVINCE]], [[PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITY]] has tightened restrictions to avoid overcrowding and accidental social gathering. This includes the following order:

[[EXAMPLE]]

Limitations on Short-Term Lodging

For purposes of this Order, “short-term lodging” shall include but is not limited to hotels, motels, short term rentals of 30 days or less (e.g. Air BnB, VRBO), bed and breakfasts, condo-tels, lodges and retreats.

  • All short-term lodging operations shall immediately cease taking new reservations for the period between today, [[RELEVANT START DATE]] and [[RELEVANT END DATE]].
  • All short-term lodging units shall vacate their premises by [[TIME]] [[DAY]], [[DATE]].
  • Exception: If a short-term lodging unit is occupied by a local worker, that worker may remain in the unit.
  • Exception: If individual(s) are experiencing symptoms of illness, or are under a quarantine or isolation order from [[PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITY]], or have other good cause to do so they may remain in any short term lodging unit occupied by such individual(s) and shall be exempt from the limitations set forth herein so long as such individual(s) remain in the unit.

The full public health order from [[PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITY]] may be found [[LINK TO PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER]], and [[ANY OTHER RESOURCES FROM PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITY]] are also available.

This is an order from [[PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITY]], which has jurisdiction over all of [[YOUR CITY/COUNTY]], including individual towns, in matters of public health. These decisions are being made in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable and save lives. [[IF RELEVANT]] The [[YOUR CITY/COUNTY]] is forwarding on this information from [[PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITY]] to ensure that information is distributed widely and comprehensively to our whole community.

Sincerely,

[[SENDER]]

******End Template******

Click here to download a Word version of this template.

We recommend sending the above communication to hosts via email for speedy and contactless delivery. Once you’ve sent hosts this notification, make sure to use all channels available to you, your website, mail, text-messaging, and social media to communicate the suspension of short-term rentals in your community.

How Do I Communicate With Hosts About STR Cleanliness?

If STRs can continue operations in your community at this time, you want to make sure that they are operating with the right precautions. We’ve curated a list of tips from the CDC and WHO for reducing the risk of virus spread in STRs. We encourage you to use these resources — along with all of the local, state, and federal resources relevant to your community — as you communicate with hosts.

We recommend including the following tips in your communications with hosts.

Clean thoroughly between guests.

Some people infected with COVID-19 may not display symptoms. It’s possible a guest stayed at your short-term rental (STR) without knowing they could be spreading the virus. Clean your short-term rental thoroughly between guests to keep others safe. Use these guidelines for disinfecting a home.

Use effective cleaning products & procedures.

Make sure you’re using CDC-recommended cleaning products and procedures. Review this list for recommended products. The CDC has also put together guidelines for cleaning.

Using a cleaning service? Confirm that they’re using the suggested methods and products.

Give visitors tools for routine cleaning.

The CDC recommends routine cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces. You can help prevent spread during a visit by giving visitors supplies so they can clean commonly used surfaces throughout their stay. Make sure visitors have access to cleaning agents, such as disposable wipes, to clean doorknobs, remote controls, and desks before and after each use.

To help visitors prevent spread, consider placing posters like these in highly visible locations on the property to make sure they are following best practices.

Maintain social distancing with guests.

Maintain at least 6 feet (2 meters) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. The virus is spread through droplets in the air, so when someone coughs or sneezes, they may be spraying droplets that contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including COVID-19 if the person has the virus. If you can, make check-in and check-out contactless.

Click here for a pdf version of our short-term rental cleaning tips.

How Do I Know If STRs Are Operating Legally?

Unsure of where STRs are located in your community? Get a complementary assessment >> 

Bringing It All Together

You will need to communicate with STR operators about key COVID-19 messages. Whether those messages notify hosts to suspend STR operations or provide hosts with resources to prevent the spread of the virus, we want to help you. Spend less time creating resources from scratch, and use our recommended templates and language.

Need a better system for notifying hosts?

Communicate with them more effectively using govDelivery, the only communications solution that’s purpose-built for government.