Safe Short Term Rental Reopening During Covid-19

Hope is on the horizon for the hospitality industry, but for many small short term rental (STR) owners, it doesn’t seem soon enough. Drip Hydration has gathered the information you need to consider when reopening your short term rental business.

How to make your property safer

STR operators don’t always know where to access professional guidance regarding Covid-19 concerns for their business and rarely have the finances and resources to remodel and restructure their properties as quickly as large commercial hotel chains and resorts. That’s why we’ve collected some expert tips that hosts can follow to ensure their short term rental reopening and operations are as safe as possible.

Airbnb enhanced clean protocol

Although the full cleaning handbook is only available to registered AirBnB hosts when they log in, AirBnB has provided this Quickstart Guide to explain the principles of the 5-step process.

  1. Prepare: This focuses on protecting yourself from the virus and making sure you have necessary equipment on hand to clean safely. This includes washing your hands, using proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies, and ventilating the space as much as possible prior to cleaning.
  2. Clean: This step of the guide clarifies the difference between cleaning and sanitizing, and offers advice for how to properly clean prior to sanitizing.
  3. Sanitize: This clarifies some points often overlooked regarding proper sanitization practices, like not using wipes on multiple surfaces, and letting sanitized surfaces air dry.
  4. Check: Promotes having a checklist to ensure vital areas have been sanitized, noting and resolving typical maintenance issues, and replenishing supplies.
  5. Reset: This not only reminds hosts to be safe and thorough when setting up, but also to provide guests with detailed guides on cleaning expectations and ensuring they have access to cleaning and hygiene supplies.

If the space you host is within your living space, you should apply the 5-step cleaning process not only to the guest space, but all common areas accessible by the guest as well.

Sonder increased cleaning standards

Hosts with physical limitations or who are considered especially vulnerable to Covid-19 may wish to consider utilizing a professional cleaning service or housekeeper. But how can you be reassured that they are following proper enhanced standards? STR owners may wish to look to Sonder’s Covid-19 response.

Sonder, an international hospitality brand specializing in short term rentals, explains in detail how their housekeepers adhere to new sanitization expectations in the “new normal”, addressing which surfaces need to be addressed, and how to handle common areas. While this doesn’t cover every detail, it’s certainly a valuable reference for hosts unsure of their needs for negotiating costs or communicating expectations with their cleaning service provider.

Safe procedures for short term rental reopening

Proactive sanitation is just a part of the effort required to stop the spread of Covid-19. Personal safety habits are also vital, and it can be difficult as a small business owner to navigate what is appropriate to enforce and how to enforce it. Below are some examples of what larger entities have enacted, which may help you when drafting your new STR policies.

Guidance for private room hosts

If you are a person at high risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms who typically shares common areas with your guests, you should consider holding off on renting until the pandemic is better under control. Although your area may seem safe, most hosting websites/local laws do not allow you to discriminate against hosting guests based on where they are from. This means that if someone from a “Covid-19 hot spot” wants to book a stay with you, you cannot turn them away based solely on that factor.

If you are comfortable reopening your private room STR, you may wish to follow Airbnb’s requirements, which include:

  • Cap guest counts to allow social distancing in all common areas
  • Frequent sanitization of common areas
  • Be clear about what areas guests may access and may NOT access
  • Follow social distancing and wear a mask in common areas at all times
  • Ventilate common areas as much as possible during the stay

Communicating clearly

One of the best ways you can ensure everyone stays safe is by ensuring guests are clear on policies and practices. Airbnb and one of their competitors, Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) both offer advice on what STR owners may wish to consider when writing policies:
Specify the additional steps you’ve taken to sanitize the property, set it up for social distancing, and your required Covid-19 precautions

  • Include links and information regarding local mandates and restrictions in your policies, as well as links to policies of any host site (ie, Airbnb or VRBO) regarding Covid-19
  • Consider rewriting cancellation policies to be more flexible, taking local restrictions and Covid-19 diagnoses into account. Rewarding responsible guest behavior will help keep you and your household safer
  • Specify your stance regarding isolation/quarantine stays, local stay-at-home orders, and what procedures you will follow in the event either you or your guests begin showing Covid-19 symptoms or get a positive test result

Reducing contact points by empowering guests

STR owners may wish to follow Sonder’s lead and create a contact-free experience for guests. This can be accomplished through:

  • Using keyless entry by installing keypads
  • Virtual greeting and guest support
  • Making cleaning products and hand sanitizer available to guests
  • Updating guest information packets to include contact information for local hospitals, urgent care centers, and other emergency numbers. If you are tech-savvy, you should also include social media info for the local health department and other governmental agencies so guests can get Covid-19 updates

The importance of testing

As a STR owner, it is your duty to be vigilant about not transmitting Covid-19 to your guests. Obviously, the easiest way to do this is to avoid infection, but what should you do next if you find out you were exposed or start showing symptoms of Covid-19? Put simply, you should isolate yourself and get tested. Your local health department should have information on how to access free Covid-19 tests at drive through clinics or testing centers.

You should be aware that issues with long lines and a shortage of tests have been reported in some areas, mostly those with high infection rates. And people especially vulnerable to the virus may be nervous at further exposure risks presented by going to get tested, especially if they aren’t already showing symptoms.

Small business owners in these situations who stand to lose income may wish to consider in-home testing services, such as Drip Hydration. You can get yourself and your employees tested for fast, hassle-free results and professional medical guidance.

Local mandates for short term rental reopening

We’ve linked local mandates regarding short term rental reopening in a few major metropolitan areas below. For other areas, owners registered with sites like Airbnb or VRBO can access links to local mandates through their accounts. Unaffiliated owners should contact their local licensing entity for further guidance.

NYC

  • STR are not permitted within NYC limits, but can be accessed from several surrounding areas. We advise any STR owners in these areas to book with extreme caution, as all the surrounding areas have travel restrictions with NYC and each other due to high infection rates.

Los Angeles

Miami

Related:

Drip Hydration Can Help You Reopen Your Short Term Rental With Confidence

Drip Hydration is proud to serve small business owners and help them safely operate in these trying times. With as little as 24 hours notice, you can book an appointment online for one of our skilled nurses to visit your home or rental unit and administer Covid-19 tests to up to 5 people.

In the event that a test comes back positive, our medical professionals will provide guidance on what has to happen next. PPO insurance providers may be able to get reimbursement for our services, and we offer group and other discounts as well – so our services may not be as expensive as you think.

Whether you’re interested in testing at regular intervals to boost your guests’ confidence that you are taking every possible precaution for their health and safety, or need answers fast in anticipation of a booking, Drip Hydration is ready to help!



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