After petitioning the State of Florida two weeks ago for the go-ahead to re-open its vacation rental home industry, and getting and meeting the guidelines for how to do that last week, Osceola County received approval for those vital properties to open again.
According to a county release, State Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DPBR) Secretary Halsey Beshears gave the OK via e-mail late Wednesday afternoon, and the county announced it later in the day.
“We appreciate the quick review of our plan and the State’s realization that the vacation rental home sector is a massive part of our economy,” said Osceola County Chairwoman Viviana Janer. “We know that this action will have a ripple effect in our community as there are so many small businesses that support the vacation rental market – from housekeepers, to lawn and pool maintenance workers, to security staff and caterers, to property managers and companies that handle the numerous details that surround a successful vacation.”
According to county records, there are 30,000 licensed vacation home rentals in Osceola County. They represent half of the County’s $60 million tourism development tax dollars. In successful times, the county estimates vacation home rentals have a $2 billion impact on its economy. But vacation homes were not part of the governor’s Phase I of the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery.”
DeSantis said that when he requested proposals from local agencies, he needed guidelines for how they’d be opening vacation homes safely. The county shared highlights of its plan which includes:
- Property owners and managers shall adopt the CDC related guidelines that are for public spaces, businesses, schools and homes. These re-open guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting expand upon what the State of Florida & DBPR already have in place for safety and sanitation for all lodging.
- Property owners and managers shall provide COVID-19 guidance of local restrictions that are in place during the guest stay including closures, curfews, and other related local information. The County will post online where this updated local information can be accessible to lodging operators and guests.
- All vacation rentals shall follow the SAFEHOME Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professional (VRHP) and Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) Cleaning Guidelines for COVID-19 which is both attached and can be found here: https://www.vrma.org/page/vrhplvrma-cleaning-guidelines-for-covid-19.
- Any person coming from a highly-infected area, as defined per the Governor’s guidelines (currently New York and Louisiana) must reserve a minimum stay of 14 nights and follow CDC self-quarantine guidelines.
- Vacation rentals may not be used for events or group gatherings that exceed maximum occupancy.