Updated: Apr 8, 2020
Coronavirus and Short-Term Rentals: Who’s Looking Out for Tenants?
- The Ellison apartment building is on the left.Last night I got an e-mail from a guy I know in Venice. He’s been living for decades at the Ellison, a beautiful old apartment building. In recent years the landlord has been turning vacant units into short-term rentals, to the point where now the tenants are in the minority, and the place has been overrun with tourists. Like all the rest of us, he’s concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. He writes….Maybe it doesn’t seem like an issue now, but:I’m a senior citizen living on the fifth floor of the same apartment building for forty years. I don’t want to share the one elevator for 58 apartments/“Ellison Suites” with bargain hunting, international tourists.I think he has an excellent point. As a senior citizen with COPD, he has a right to be worried about living in a building with tourists from all over the world when health officials have voiced serious concern about the spread of the virus. A top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, “It’s not so much a matter of if this will happen anymore, but rather a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”Tenants at the Ellison have been dealing with a lot of issues since their landlord decided to turn the building into a quasi-hotel. Loud music, late night parties and drunken revelers have been ongoing problems. But now they have to be concerned about whether they could be exposed to a serious disease.Why should renters have to deal with this? It used to be that there were clear boundaries between residential and commercial uses, and tenants could expect to be shielded from the disturbances that arise with transient occupants. But now we live in a world with tech “visionaries” who value “disruption” more than they value communities. And while LA has passed a short-term rental ordinance, it’s still an open question as to how strict enforcement is going to be. Remember, Eric Garcetti’s former spokesperson, Connie Llanos, left her job at the Mayor’s Office to go to work for AirBnB.This isn’t just a health issue. It’s a liability issue. While there are many law-abiding individuals who are legally renting their house or apartment under the Home Sharing Ordinance, there are still plenty of landlords (like the owner of the Ellison) and commercial operators who are flouting the law . If a renter is infected with the coronavirus through contact with a tourist, will these landlords pay for their healthcare costs? I seriously doubt it. And yet, as this contagious disease spreads across the globe, with new cases every day, tenants who moved into their building with the expectation that they’d be living with other tenants find themselves coming into frequent contact with vacationers. Also, aside from STRs, the City of LA has actually approved a hybrid apartment/hotel use at the Metropolitan in Hollywood and Level Furnished Living in Downtown. They’re getting ready to do it again at 949 S. Hope.We are seeing new cases of coronovirus infections every day, and the numbers are spiking in multiple countries. It seems to me that if tenants have evidence that their landlord is illegally offering multiple units on short-term rental web sites, they’d be perfectly justified in seeking an injunction to protect their health.If you see a problem here, why not contact the Mayor and ask if he sees a problem, too. And while you’re at it, why not write to the City Attorney’s Office.
Mayor Eric Garcetti email@example.comLeela Ann Kapur, Chief of Staff, City Attorney firstname.lastname@example.org
Couldn’t hurt to copy your Councilmember as well.Maybe you could use the following subject line….Coronavirus and Short-Term Rentals
Airbnb suspends all check-ins in Beijing amid the coronavirus outbreak
February 10, 2020 12:04 AM EST
Airbnb Inc. is suspending check-ins at all of its Beijing listings until March to comply with local regulations intended to curb the coronavirus outbreak that’s spreading across China.
The San Francisco-based company said in a statement that it will offer refunds to all those affected or that cancel their bookings. This is in adherence to municipal policy, Airbnb said, though the Beijing government’s press office didn’t answer calls from Bloomberg News seeking comment.
Local rival Xiaozhu will match Airbnb’s actions, shutting down all rentals in Beijing for February and issuing full refunds for existing bookings while also waiving landlord commission fees, it said in a statement. It’s not yet clear whether others in the home-sharing industry, including Trip.com Group Ltd.-backed Tujia, are following suit. In its mobile app, Trip.com said “some” apartment bookings in Beijing have been suspended and recommended users turn to hotels instead.
“In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak and guidance from local authorities for the short-term rental industry during this public health emergency, bookings of all listings in Beijing with check-in from 7 February 2020 to 29 February 2020 have been suspended,” Airbnb said in its statement. The company “appreciates that disease control efforts are causing overall travel disruptions that also affect our community of guests and hosts.”
Health authorities in China and around the world are trying to gauge whether the world’s largest known quarantine effort has been effective in containing the pneumonia-causing virus in central Hubei province, a landlocked region of 60 million people. Infections are rising elsewhere in the country and Beijing is one of its most popular tourist destinations. As of Sunday, Beijing’s health authorities have confirmed 337 cases, including two deaths.
Airbnb creates specific coronavirus cancellation policy
6th March 2020 Miles Hurley Airbnb, cancellation, Coronavirus, policy
Worldwide: With the coronavirus spreading to over 70 countries, Airbnb has introduced specific policies for how and when to cancel bookings.
This is in response to the number of cancellations being made worldwide as a result of disease-related concerns.
Airbnb usually has six individual categories pertaining to the strictness of cancellation, ranging from flexible to super strict. However now, Airbnb has extended its extenuating circumstances policy to coronavirus, covering reservations in areas with government or health regulation problems.
Guests who are also travelling from an affected region can cancel bookings for free. In addition, those who provide medical care for the virus can change any plans without cost, according to a company statement.
This news comes as various governments are expanding their efforts to fight the virus. The US, UK and Australia have added travel warnings to anywhere with a major breakout of the virus and are considering adding restrictions.
The company said: “We strongly urge our community to take necessary precautions to protect yourself when traveling or hosting.
“Our focus right now is on how we can best support our stakeholders as they are impacted by this global health challenge, including hosts, guests, employees and the communities in which we operate.”
Experts have told CNBC that they expect significant degrees of cancellation with regard to travel going forward. The hospitality industry has started responding, with Airbnb and Oyo setting up funds to cover possible losses from partners.
Airline Flybe entered administration on Thursday, citing the virus as a key reason.
Airbnb may be further affected, however. There are rumours that the slowdown of the economy due to the virus may delay Airbnb’s IPO plans, which were announced for at least 2020.
Airbnb is focusing on ensuring its community is supported. The group has advised people to follow advice from the WHO, travel authorities and heath organizations going forward
ITB Berlin’s Cancellation Had Only a Mild Impact on Short-Term Rental Owners
Sean O'Neill, Skift - Mar 06, 2020 2:00 pm
An upside for cities like Berlin that tighten short-term rental supply through regulation is that they’re less prone to price and occupancy shocks when something like the trade fair ITB Berlin cancels at the last minute.
— Sean O'Neill
You might think that the managers of short-term rental properties in Berlin faced sharp pain when ITB Berlin canceled its early March event, Europe’s biggest travel fair.
But you’d be partly wrong. New data suggests the impact of the coronavirus crisis was mild, even though Berlin was set to host about 50,000 visitors from abroad during the first week of March.
Berlin’s occupancy and rates only had minor drops. Advertised daily rates for the days of the fair barely changed after the cancellation was announced, said Transparent, a vacation rentals analytics service, in a report on Friday. Berlin’s short-term rental rates remained broadly in line with the ones for the weeks before and after it.
Converting to long-term rental to deal with COVID-19?
I'm currently in the process of remodeling my basement to be an Airbnb unit: very nice bathroom with W/D, large bedroom, large living room, kitchenette (small fridge and no stove/sink due to city regs on homestays). I've already purchased 90% of the furniture and furnishings for it. Probably 1 month out from being fully finished. I live in an area (Asheville, NC) with well above avg demand area for short-term rentals and very high demand long-term rentals, though the former will likely drop due to coronavirus. My debt to income ratio is such that getting 40%+ of my mortgage covered thru some sort of renting was always part of the plan for making it comfortably affordable.Without getting into whether it's warranted or not, I can see the writing on the wall with drops in travel, conferences, flights, etc and I'm not expecting that my income plan with Airbnb is going to pan out over the next 12-24 months. I'm curious as to thoughts/considerations for whether it's worth converting to long-term, fully furnished rental until this blows over and travel/tourism recover. Here's how I see the tradeoffs so far:
PROS: Steadier, slightly higher monthly income (~$900 vs $750 as I was only planning to airbnb on weekends). Wayyy less work with turning over, advertising, etc. Less cost in supplies and ongoing expenses. Higher resale/appraisal value on home. No $500 annual permit fee to city. Helps in a small way to alleviate city's affordable housing crisis.
CONS: More wear and tear. Stuck with tenant if I don't like them, unless willing to go to court. Have to buy dresser, fridge, stove, sink, new washer/dryer, countertop/cabinet, maybe other stuff, wire new 220 to dryer/stove, and cut new dryer vents - if I'm frugal, that's an extra $2.5k of debt and extra week or two construction. Have to share space more often. Less flexibility to have friends/family stay. Have to take out of commission for a month if/when I decide to convert it back to short term rental.Would love any thoughts, suggestions, new angles on this - thanks! 16 CommentsShare SaveHideReport A_Beach_Guy 3 points· 1 day ago If you've run the numbers, and you've proven to yourself that you can earn more money by doing long term rentals, why would you want to put up with all the crap that comes along with being a short term rental host? With each passing day I seriously consider converting back to traditional long term tenants, or just selling this building and walking away altogether. If you can make more money by not putting up with this shit, by all means do it.The media has people scared to death of this new variant of The Flu. I'm more worried about the economic fallout, than I am of actually contracting the virus myself. The global supply chain is being broken, and the ripple effect will be with us for a long time to come. Take a look at the price of a barrel of oil... It has fallen to it's lowest price in three years. The global economic outlook for 2020 is being revised downward. Conventions, Conferences, Concerts, and Cruises are all being cancelled. The Airlines are hemorrhaging cash, because people are changing their travel plans. We're not going to snap back to normal in a few weeks or a few months. You need to plan for the long haul.Finish your remodel with long term tenants in mind, and then screen them thoroughly. I'm more worried about the economic fallout, than I am of actually contracting the virus myself. The global supply chain is being broken, and the ripple effect will be with us for a long time to come. Take a look at the price of a barrel of oil... It has fallen to it's lowest price in three years. The global economic outlook for 2020 is being revised downward. Conventions, Conferences, Concerts, and Cruises are all being cancelled. The Airlines are hemorrhaging cash, because people are changing their travel plans. We're not going to snap back to normal in a few weeks or a few months. You need to plan for the long haul.Precisely this. I tried to address this in my post: While I do think that a 10-20x mortality rate over seasonal flu is cause for serious concern, I'm not making panicked decisions or at all worried about contracting coronavirus myself (healthy, mid-30s). I am, however, acutely aware of the average person's reaction to it and how irrational that can be. And I'm trying to be realistic with my planning for that and hoping to get some general feedback on the pros/cons so I can be better prepared for whatever decision I make. In my sector, I'm seeing a lot more work from home and many, many conferences being canceled. Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful response! thatcbcb Have multiple units in the Smokies, not far from Asheville. It's anecdotal, but we haven't seen a drop in bookings at all. The tourist Facebook groups for this area barely mention it. If you're looking at weekends only in particular, we haven't had an opening on a weekend yet this year, and the Spring is mostly booked up for both couples and families (our units sleep anywhere from 2-12 people.)We haven't heard of any conventions getting cancelled here yet either.Asheville is obviously a slightly different market, but I thought giving you some regional info might be somewhat helpful. From a business perspective, for us, we haven't been given any indication that we should be concerned yet. Longer term, that may change, but at the moment, we're doing just fine, if not slightly better than last year's numbers. A_Beach_Guy we haven't been given any indication that we should be concerned yet.Sure... but how are you doing on Hand Sanitizer? Have you looked at the shelves at your local Walmart or Piggly Wiggly? When you see an empty shelf where there should be mass quantities of Purell and Germ-X, and you see lots of people milling about, circling like sharks, waiting for that shelf to be re-stocked, then you'll know that a media induced panic has set in, and the world has gone crazy. beaconpropmgmt We have ozone machines and clean after every guest. With no full kitchen, you'll want to STR. It's been good for us. I just ran across this guy. Wanted to share. They generally have some great advice. orincoro 1 point· 22 hours ago You have to consider that the impact of a global economic disruption is not really certain in how it will affect you. For example, the reduction in the price of oil can make some kinds of travel cheaper, meaning you may have more interest from traveler who otherwise wouldn't travel. In addition, my experience so far has been that the one or two COVID related cancellations were immediately rebooked, as other guests who are committed to traveling feel safer with us than in a hotel.Aside from that, reductions in one kind of traveler may bring increases in another. I'm in central europe: our English speaking business has fallen off a lot the last few years, but Germans and others have made up the difference by traveling here even more. They do it because we're close.In sum, it's not a certainty for every host that an economic downturn is negative. My personal experience has been that demand remains steady regardless of the situation. Either guests are booking us because we are cheaper than a hotel, or they are booking us because hotels are full. Either way, if your pricepoint is good, you will get booked. RedBanana99 Ther’s a 98% chance of not dying with the virus. Currently in the UK there are 118 cases in hospital out of a 70m population. Our business bookings have not dropped off. No advice really, but to say it’s not as bad as the news makes out. In the last week we have not heard a peep about Brexit or Boris Johnson. It’s weird stormcloudbros Yes but a 2% chance of dying from a virus is no joke. I think if you’re expecting US bookings for the most part, I wouldn’t be as concerned. If you’re expecting international travelers, then I would. Major festivals and conferences are starting to be canceled and postponed so that’s another thing to be mindful of as I know Asheville attracts a conference crowd.Edit: you’re PB-and-Jelly I wouldn’t worry about it. People are still going to come and go with or without the virus. jcholder Really... the panic has spread to this sub too
- Hey gang, what are you all doing when confronted with event cancellations? While I want to be sympathetic, I'm also not at all impressed with guests who booked last week and took advantage of the 10% off non-refundable option now asking for a full refund because it looks like the conference they're attending will be cancelled. (I'm mid-Atlantic US, guest is coming in from Canada.) It's not like you couldn't have seen this eventuality coming last week and at least booked with a cancellation option!I'm inclined to tell them that I'll be happy to refund their booking if I am able to rebook those nights, but otherwise I'll be sticking with my cancellation policy.