New Mexico, Georgia, Florida issue new pandemic vacation rental rules
- Apr 15, 2020 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
As states battle the spread of COVID-19, several have restricted the operation of short-term rentals amid fears that travelers coming from pandemic hot spots to stay in vacation rentals may bring the virus with them. New Mexico and Georgia have joined those states targeting vacation rentals for closure, while Florida has extended a previous shutdown.
New Mexico shuts down short-term rentals through April 30
On April 6, the New Mexico Department of Health issued a public health order that tightens the state’s restrictions on public gatherings and business operations in response to the pandemic, closing businesses not deemed “essential.” While the order directs hotels, motels, RV parks, and other lodgings to operate at no more than 25% capacity, it specifically states that short-term rentals of rooms, apartments, and houses are not allowed to operate.
Unlike many state orders that restrict short-term rentals but allow them to house certain kinds of guests, such as healthcare workers, New Mexico’s directive on vacation rentals does not include any exceptions. The order is in effect until April 30.
Georgia suspends vacation rental operations
In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp extended the state’s shelter in place order through April 30 and announced that vacation rentals would be suspended until then. The shutdown does not apply to guests with fully paid reservations that were made before April 9, rental property owners, or leases that are a person’s primary place of residence. The order does not apply to hotels and campgrounds.
Florida extends short-term rental closure
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has extended an order requiring short-term rentals to suspend operations until April 30. The order includes some exceptions, including rentals to guests working as part of military, emergency, government, health, or infrastructure response. Travelers engaged in non-vacation commercial activities are also exempt.
According to the governor’s March 27 order, violators will lose their rental licenses and can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
Other lodgings, such as hotels, may continue to operate if they follow social distancing guidelines. Florida Vacation Rental Management Association Executive Director Denis Hanks protested that decision.
“While we understand the public safety approach to this emergency order and extension, we do have some serious concerns as the only hospitality sector singled out and restricted by its implementation. In the meantime, hotels, cruise ships, airports and other lodging and transportation providers continue to operate without restrictions of this nature despite them posing a higher risk of spreading the virus,” Hanks said in a statement.