COVID-19 & Your Short-Term Rental

In light of global concerns regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), we suggest monitoring the quickly-evolving nature of the situation and closely following the recommendations of health and government officials as it pertains to yourselves and your guests.

The governor of Tennessee has declared a state of emergency as it relates to COVID-19. This does not include an official travel restriction and is primarily to allow our state to receive vital federal funding; however, many events, meetings, and gatherings across the state have been cancelled. This impacts us all personally and also has implications for our short-term rentals. First and foremost, health and safety is a top concern. Please refer to the CDC’s guidelines on cleaning, disinfecting, and protecting yourself and others from illness.

Communication is key and it may be prudent to proactively reach out to future guests. This would be a great opportunity to:

  • inform guests of the measures and precautions you and your cleaning team are taking to create an environment that is as safe and healthy as possible
  • notify them of the listing platform’s policy regarding cancellations at this time
  • inform them of how you plan to handle cancellation requests
  • encourage them to reach out to their travel insurance company and/or credit card company to inquire about any coverage they may have available to them if their travel plans are impacted

As we are all approached with an abundance of cancellation requests, NASTRA is unable to offer any specific recommendations regarding how to respond. We recognize that our hosts and property managers all vary dramatically in terms of how they operate. We also recognize that many hosts use the supplemental income from their short-term rentals to simply pay the bills. For these reasons, we cannot state a preferred policy on how to handle cancellations that are not covered by booking platforms’ extenuating circumstances coverage. We do, however, recommend that you handle these requests with compassion for all involved and take into consideration your rental agreement, cancellation policy, booking platforms’ communications on the subject, and government/health agency recommendations and restrictions.

Some options available to you would be to uphold your cancellation policy, extend a full refund, offer a partial refund, offer further refund if another guest books the cancelled dates, and/or credit the nonrefundable balance toward a future stay.

There is no perfect way to handle an imperfect situation; all we can do is what we feel is most fair and wise given the circumstances.

RESOURCES:

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

The World Health Organization continues to update their site as the situation develops.

CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL

The Center for Disease Control continues to update their site as the situation develops.

Refer to their guidelines on cleaning, disinfecting, and protecting yourself and others from illness.

TN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

The Tennessee Department of Health website offers details about COVID-19 specifically as it relates to our state.

NASHVILLE

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville created a special website to address the impact specific to Nashville: COVID19.Nashville.Gov

The Visit Music City website is being updated frequently with helpful resources, guidelines, and tips for Nashville.

AIRBNB

Airbnb enacted their extenuating circumstances cancellation policy for this situation. “Existing reservations made on or before March 14, 2020 for stays and Airbnb Experiences with a check-in date of April 14, 2020, or earlier, and with at least one night occurring between March 14, 2020, and April 14, 2020, are covered. Guests who cancel will receive a full refund, and hosts will be able to cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status.” Read the full update statement on their website here.

Airbnb is keeping hosts and travelers updated through their website here. You can reach Support at ‭1-855-424-7262‬.

VRBO / HOMEAWAY

On March 18th, Vrbo/HomeAway enacted a COVID-19 Emergency Policy for cancellations. “We ask that Vrbo partners handle cancellations for trips booked before March 13 with stays that fall between March 13 and April 30 in one of two ways (even if those trips are outside of the set cancellation policy): Option 1 (Default): Offer a credit for full value and flexible stay dates within the next year (at no additional cost) to travelers who can’t take trips now due to COVID-19. Option 2: If the traveler is unwilling to accept a credit, we advise partners to issue them a refund. If partners are unable to accommodate a full refund, Vrbo expects partners to provide at least a 50% refund if the traveler cancels during this time.” Read the full COVID-19 Emergency Policy for cancellations on their website here.

Vrbo/HomeAway is keeping hosts and travelers updated through their website here. You can reach Support at 1-877-228-3145‬.

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