These are challenging times for all of us, both financially and emotionally. I’d like to say a big thank you for your support and understanding as we work through these changes together.
As you know, the situation on the ground in Florida is very fluid and we are continuing our work to keep both homeowners and guests appraised of the latest information.
Where do vacation-home owners stand now?
Florida Governor DeSantis announced the shutdown in March and the restriction on vacation rentals began on March 27 following an Executive Order.
On April 29, Governor DeSantis announced the phased reopening of Florida businesses. The first phase began on Monday 4. This included the opening of restaurants with outside dining having spaces of six feet between tables and indoor dining reduce to 25% capacity. Retail stores also reduced shopper capacity inside of 25%, and the resumption of elective surgeries.
Sadly, vacation homes were not included in this first phase of reopening.
How have vacation-home owners responded?
Many Florida vacation-home owners have expressed frustration that the phased reopening hasn’t allowed vacation homes to reopen in the first phase.
The San Destin Golf and Beach resort wrote to the state government to argue that vacation homes are safer for social distancing than a hotel, yet hotels have been allowed to reopen. It wrote, “The entire nation has been sent to their own homes to shelter in place, making a private residence much less of a threat than a multi-room hotel with countless public areas.”
This frustration has led to a Change.org petition with over 20,000 signatures, petitioning for Governor DeSantis to reconsider the ban and provide greater clarity about the next stages.
Florida’s vacation rental ban is challenged in court
You may have heard rumours that some vacation-home owners have started legal action against the ban. A number of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to this effect in Tampa last Thursday, arguing that the vacation-rental ban violates due process, equal protection and other constitutional rights.
The lawyers also argued against the prohibition on advertising, arguing: “Ironically, Fortune 500 companies which own hotels or large timeshare businesses may engage legally in the same speech that the plaintiffs find themselves subject to criminal and administrative sanctions.”
What is likely to happen in the near future regarding the ban?
The situation remains very changeable and it remains very difficult to predict when things are likely to change.
The task force charged with planning Phase Two has suggested that vacation homes could open under certain conditions in phase two of the reopening. These conditions are likely to include:
- Open, but only to in-state reservations (Florida residents only)
- Ban on rentals to visitors from countries that do not have the virus under control
- A mandatory 72-hour hiatus between guest check-ins
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection between rentals
- Signage in all units detailing the new cleaning and sanitation procedures.
However, at this stage there are no guarantees about this phase of reopening or the conditions that are likely to be applied. We will continue to monitor the situation and bring you news when we have it.
What should vacation-home owners do during this time?
This period is worrying for us all. We’re doing our best to turn the situation into a positive as much as we can for our homeowners.
For this reason, we’re implementing new safety procedures for the guests that do book. We are encouraging everyone to use this fallow time to prepare their homes and marketing, ready for when the market does reopen again – everyone is going to be so keen to holiday once it is safe to do so again and we are expecting a surge in bookings as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Here’s a list of what the White Rose Villa team are doing to support our home owners at the moment:
- Weekly inspections of vacant homes
- Conducting health and safety audits
- We have contracted a photographer to take new photos of all homes. These will be given to owners free of charge as a thank you for their support.
- We are redesigning the WRV blog to make it more helpful to our owners during this difficult time. Check back regularly – or follow us – because we’ll be updating the blog regularly.
- We’re reviewing listings and activities across all the listing sites, property descriptions and marketing channels.
- We’re offering discounted deep cleans for homeowners who book a deep clean during this period. It’s often hard to find vacant periods where we can schedule deep cleans, so this is the perfect opportunity to wash those carpets and jet wash those hard surfaces! If you’d like to benefit from this service, please call us.
What’s happening elsewhere in Florida?
You may be aware that some restaurants and shops are beginning to reopen their doors under the first phase of the reopening specified by Governor DeSantis. However, the news from the parks is less positive at the moment.
News from Disney
There has been much speculation online about the opening of the Disney parks, especially with the Disney Shanghai park opening earlier this week.
However, the Disney parks around the rest of the world – including Orlando and California – won’t be opening to guests anytime soon.
The good news is that Disney Springs will begin a limited reopening from May 20. This will allow third-party traders on the site to reopen, provided the appropriate safety measures are in place. However, the rest of Walt Disney Resort will remain closed for the foreseeable future, including theme parks and resort hotels.
Note that guests to Disney Springs will be expected to wear a mask and observe social distancing rules.
News from Universal
As with the Disney Parks, there is no sign of the Universal parks being able to open anytime soon.
The good news from Universal, is that City Walk will begin its limited reopening from May 14.
As with Disney, CDC guidance – including the wearing of masks and the observance of social distancing rules – only certain traders will be opening.
Universal Studios store and a number of merchandise stores will open. Some restaurants will open with a limited menu and limited seating. Valet parking won’t be available. All nightclubs, Blue Man Group venues and Universal Cinemark will remain closed.
A temperature check will be required on arrival and you will need to wear a mask. Universal is also temperature checking its staff. It is also limiting capacity to enforce social distancing and has placed signage around City Walk to help with this.
Do you have questions for us?
Our team remain on hand to answer all of your questions. Please get in touch if you have any concerns or would like further information about anything listed here. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org