How Is The COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting Short-Term Rentals In Florida?

As one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, Florida’s tourist industry took a big hit when the coronavirus pandemic began. But, what exactly is the relationship between COVID-19 and short-term rentals in the Sunshine State?


COVID-19 and Short-Term Rentals in Florida

While the first cases of COVID-19 in the United States were reported way back in January 2020, it was not until a month later when the severity of the health crisis truly became clear. The number of infections and deaths around the globe started multiplying, and it was apparent that governments had to take action.

On March 27, 2020, in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease, Governor DeSantis issued an order to close all Florida vacation rentals. But, hotels, resorts, inns, and motels remained open with no occupancy caps or social distancing regulations.

By May of the same year, DeSantis announced that the first phase of reopening would take place. As part of this phase, he allowed counties to restart vacation rental operations provided they submit a written request to seek approval from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Counties also had to put a safety plan in place for vacation rentals.

By June 2020, a total of 50 counties received approval to operate vacation rentals in Florida. The decision to revive the state’s economy via the reopening of short-term rentals came as no surprise. After all, about 16.7 percent of all short-term rentals in the country come from the Sunshine State.


The Florida Short-Term Rental Market in 2019

Florida beach amid pandemic | covid-19 and short-term rentalsTo better understand how COVID-19 impacted the short-term rental market, we must take a look at the industry prior to the pandemic. The year 2019 was a banner year for vacation rentals.

Airbnb, in particular, played a crucial role in the proliferation of short-term rentals in Florida. Not only is it a convenient way to book vacation stays, but it also provided property owners with an easy way to earn money.

In fact, Airbnb hosts in Florida collectively earned $1.2 billion in 2019. Additionally, a total of 6.6 million people rented vacation homes that year. The winter holiday season, spring break, and the Fourth of July weekend all saw spikes in rentals.

The meteoric rise in revenue can be attributed to Florida’s fast-growing tourism industry. Gorgeous beaches, vibrant nightlife, a thriving arts community and many theme parks define this state. It is also home to the Everglades National Park, a sprawling plot of greenery filled with mangroves and marshes as well as protected species of animals like the American crocodile and the Florida panther.

Aware of Florida’s popularity among tourists, residents and property owners started taking advantage of the lucrative opportunity. This translated to an increase in Florida homeowners sharing their homes on Airbnb in 2019.


COVID-19 and Short-Term Rentals in Florida in 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many jurisdictions imposed lockdowns and quarantines. Travel bans were imposed, which made it difficult for Florida’s short-term rental industry. Occupancy rates understandably dipped, with Miami experiencing a 29 percent decline between March 2019 and March 2020. And, with the addition of DeSantis’ order to close all vacation rentals, it seemed as though the market would have a hard time recovering.

While revenues did slump for short-term rentals worldwide, things took a turn with the release of some surprising news. According to a report from Airbnb, new hosts on the platform with only a single listing collectively earned more than $1 billion since the pandemic began. These hosts first joined in the middle of the pandemic and received their first bookings during the same time.

Airbnb attributes this unexpected yet welcome growth to the “pent-up demand for travel” following long-term isolation. It also comes from homeowners’ need to earn extra income to meet mortgage payments. In fact, worldwide, half of all Airbnb hosts used the money they earned from the platform to keep their homes.

Short-term rentals have certainly saved a lot of people during this pandemic. And while the United States has distributed stimulus checks to its citizens, the average earnings of $3,900 per new host from Airbnb is nearly double that amount. In Florida, 6,900 new hosts registered on the platform and together earned $42 million.

Worldwide, though, Airbnb’s year-end financial results showed a 22 percent drop in revenue from 2019. Still, this was more forgiving than anticipated, and things are certainly looking up.


Predictions for 2021

The year 2021 offers glimmers of hope for the short-term rental market — not just in Florida, but everywhere in the United States. While the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is underway, many expect to continue to feel the effects of the pandemic. But, that does not mean there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

The tourism industry is on the mend, and short-term rentals are gaining momentum once again. In fact, experts forecast that the short-term rental industry will truly recover by September 2021. Uncertainty continues to permeate our lives, so domestic travel and staycations are safer and more favored options.

South Florida, in particular, is seeing a rise in average daily rates compared to March 2020. This is mainly due to the region’s popularity as a spring break destination. Though, it is not all good news. As large crowds gather in Miami Beach, the city imposed a state of emergency and restrictions on business operations. It also led to many cancellations (about 27 percent) on short-term rental bookings for the month of March.


The Final Word on COVID-19 and Short-Term Rentals

sanitizing rental house | covid-19 and short-term rentalsThe coronavirus pandemic has certainly changed the way we travel. We take more careful precautions now than before and expect more stringent cleaning protocols in the places we stay.

While the short-term rental industry experienced immediate effects as a result of COVID-19, it also surprised us with unexpected growth mid-pandemic. Many expect it to bounce back, though it may not come quickly.

Rental property management, especially during times of crisis, is often difficult to pull off. This is why many property owners choose to turn to an established property management company. Start looking for the best property management company in your area today with the help of Florida Property Management’s online directory.