Hayden Ward

Finding Relief for Vacation Rental Property Owners

covid vacation rental

Coronavirus has become an unescapable weight halting the travel and hospitality industry. It has had a devastating toll not only on short-term rental property owners but also the communities they serve. 

Due to these exceptional circumstances, travel booking sites such as Vrbo and Airbnb have recently changed their extenuating circumstances, cancellation policies, and guidelines. Additionally, Congress enacted the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act of 2020 to provide much needed relief for small business owners, including those in the travel industry. 

Here is a list of resources to help you navigate the crisis:

CARES Act:

To help ease the economic hardship of individuals, employees, and businesses, Congress passed the $2 trillion relief package, the largest financial support package in U.S. history. The act is expected to secure help for the travel and tourism industry as a result of the “unprecedented and catastrophic” pandemic, said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow during a recent webcast, “and to build a bridge for travel industry workers and their business.” 

The legislation provides a variety of grants, emergency loans, unsecured lines of credit, and other forms of relief for U.S. businesses and nonprofits of all sizes. It is structured in such a way to help stabilize businesses and communities, and to provide incentives that will retain worker jobs, U.S. Travel Association staff said. 

Key relief measures include:

  • Expansion of Unemployment Benefits

An important provision under the CARES Act is a massive expansion to unemployment benefits. Unemployed workers, including independent contractors and self-employed individuals, will be eligible for federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week for four months. This amount is in addition to any state unemployment benefits. Further, federal unemployment benefits will provide an additional 13 weeks of pay once a worker’s duration of state unemployment benefits expire. This expansion of unemployment benefits can help short-term rental owners pay their ongoing expenses during a time when they are not earning income.

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

A large part of the act is $367 billion in loans and grants to small businesses as part of the PPP. The program is designed to help businesses keep their workforce on the payroll. Small businesses, including self-employed and sole proprietors, will be able to borrow 2.5 times their average eligible monthly payroll, and the interest rates on the loans will not exceed 1.0%. Most importantly, the SBA will forgive loan proceeds that are used to cover the first eight weeks of payroll costs, benefits, rent, utilities; and mortgage interest incurred. The timeline for this loan is retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020 so employers can rehire their recently laid off employees. Also please note that a minimum of 75% of the loan must be designated for payroll.

Demand for PPP loans and other SBA relief is expected to be significant, so we have compiled frequently asked questions to help you understand and act on the benefits available. Keep in mind that the current environment is evolving, so some of the details in our FAQ could change as the government releases more guidance around the applicable provisions.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19. This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed persons. The purpose is to provide low-interest loans to help small business owners get back on their feet. The loans offer up to $2 million in assistance at an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses. The extended repayment plan gives borrowers up to 30 years for repayment. 

The disaster loans can be used for business expenses, such as payroll, accounts payable, equipment purchased, and real estate payments. Additionally, small businesses are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

Keep in mind due to the numerous federal loan programs, your small business may be able to receive funding through more than just one entity. One thing to note is that the loans likely cannot be used for the same thing.  

For the latest on funding options available through the Small Business Administration, click here. 

Airbnb Relief Fund

It’s no secret that Airbnb hosts were greatly impacted by Airbnb’s updated extenuating circumstances cancellation policy. To help offset the financial burden many Airbnb hosts are experiencing, the company has set aside $250 million to help hosts impacted by COVID-19. Reservations booked before March 14, 2020 with a check-in between March 14th and May 31st, are eligible for the host relief fund. Airbnb will pay 25% of what vacation rental property owners would have received for a cancellation based on their own cancellation policy. 

Frontline Stays Program

Airbnb is partnering with 100,000 hosts to provide housing for first responders and healthcare staff by offering rooms for those fighting the spread of COVID-19 so they can isolate themselves and prevent exposure to their families. Through the Frontline Stays program, you can price your place at a full rate, a discounted rate, or completely for free. Airbnb will waive all fees for the bookings for COVID-19 responders.

Airbnb SuperHost Relief Fund

Helping one another and providing extraordinary service are the makings of any SuperHost. Based on that desire to bring together their community and assist each other, Airbnb’s employees have donated $1 million dollars from their own pockets toward efforts to assist funding hosts that are struggling during COVID-19. Additionally, Airbnb’s founders are personally contributing $9 million to the fund. This relief is in addition to the Airbnb Host Relief Fund. In order to qualify for the Airbnb SuperHost fund, a host must: 

  • Show reliance on Airbnb as a vital source of income
  • Share their primary or secondary residence – have no more than 2 active listings
  • Have been a SuperHost for over a year
  • Have lost a significant percentage of earnings due to the pandemic

All applications will be reviewed and hand-picked by the Airbnb team. If you are currently listing on their platform, we highly encourage those who are eligible to apply.

GoFundMe Small Business Relief Initiative

Now is the time to begin fundraising for your business. Create a powerful, compelling story about your vacation rental property and reach out to the community. With the COVID-19 outbreak, many will understand that you are working hard to keep your home available to others and are looking for ways to support small businesses.

GoFundMe has partnered with Yelp and Intuit Quickbooks to help small business owners receive funding they may need to keep afloat during this pandemic. Through the Small Business Relief Fund, qualifying businesses that have raised a minimum of $500 on GoFundMe can receive a matching grant. For more information regarding this fund, please visit GoFundMe. 

One last thought...

According to National Geographic April 2020 article, the U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow predicts that “there will be a pent-up desire to travel” once businesses return to normal. Until then, use your resources and time to manage your business so it can survive this pandemic and flourish afterwards. Stay informed and consider the relief packages Congress has put in place to help as well as the SBA. 

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About Us

CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance, a division of CBIZ Insurance Services,Inc., is the largest insurer of short-term vacation rental properties in the United States. As part of an $850 million New York Stock Exchange traded company (CBZ), we are the first broker to develop specific policy coverage to meet the needs for vacation rental properties and the amenities offered by these businesses. We have insured vacation rental properties since 2002.

The CBIZ Vacation Rental Insurance team knows insurance, specifically the risks and exposures related to short-term vacation rentals.We won't confuse you with technical "insurance speak" ~ our representatives are well versed in explaining your coverage in plain English. With hands-on, personal customer service, we guarantee swift communication and a 24/7 claims team that is ready to respond to your call any time of the day. As specialist in the industry, we leverage our knowledge and passion to ensure you and your business are adequately protected.