The New Jersey Shore is reopening, and that means many people are starting to think about whether summer down the Shore is a salvageable plan.
It’s true that short-term rentals will be happening this summer in both New Jersey and Delaware, but it won’t exactly be business as usual.
Here are some questions about how things will go this summer.
Yes, it’s allowed. In New Jersey, most municipalities are allowing rentals to begin on Monday, June 1, though a few places opened up a bit earlier.
In Delaware, Gov. John Carney is lifting his state’s ban on short-term rentals and eliminating its quarantine for out-of-state residents. Both take effect Monday.
This is where things get difficult.
“The owner has the final say as to whether or not a cancellation will occur,” said Clay Rossiter, who manages the rental department for Fox Real Estate in Ocean City, N.J.
So it may be about appealing to the owners to see if there could be an amicable settlement.
There may be other solutions. “I have asked my owner if he or she would consider maybe moving the funds that have been put in place this year for, say, July, and move them to next year, giving them a lease in 2021, without a refund," he said.
"In these cases, the tenant has the right to enforce the lease, but the effort it would take is not worth the fight,” Rossiter said. In this case, your best bet may be to find another property.
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VRBO and Airbnb are the two leading short-term rental platforms. They have slightly different policies when it comes to refunds.
Reservations with Airbnb made before March 14, with a check-in date before June 30, can be canceled before check-in for a full cash refund or travel credit.
“Reservations for stays made after March 14 will not be covered under our extenuating circumstances policy, except where the guest or host is currently sick with COVID-19,” Airbnb’s policy reads.
VRBO says that it is asking owners to offer a full credit for the amount already paid, even outside a cancellation window, which can be applied to future bookings at the property. VRBO says it is strongly encouraging property owners and managers to issue at least a partial refund for situations in which a flexible credit cannot be accommodated.
It’s best to exercise caution on this one. Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been loosening restrictions, which also means social restrictions. On May 22, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said all counties in the commonwealth would move to the “yellow” phase by Thursday, June 4. During the yellow phase, we’re able to see other people, though caution and social distancing are going to be part of our lives for some time to come.
While New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy extended the number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25, and said you can have, say, a barbecue with friends as long as you still have physical distance from each other, he reiterated that indoor gatherings are still limited to 10.
And with everything else, be extra careful if you, or someone you want to go with, has a preexisting health condition, is older, or is in another at-risk group.
One is method of payment.
“Almost all will be curbside and remote check-in and checkout,” said Chris Bezaire, president of the Cape May County Association of Realtors. “Owners and cities are also widening the time frame between check-in and checkout to ensure more time for intense cleaning and make sure everything is properly sanitized.”
Bezaire also said tenants might be required to bring pillows, blankets, sheets, and towels, using their own instead of others.
And, it might be worth doing a thorough cleaning yourself once you get to a property.
“I haven’t seen a reduction in prices,” said Frank Shoemaker of Berger Realty in Ocean City. “They are probably going to be about the same.”
It depends. Shoemaker says that if you know you are going to rent, it’s best not to procrastinate. “Once more things start opening up, it is going to get busier selection-wise,” he said. “If people want something they may want to think of booking now rather than wait until the last minute.”