55ºF

State approves St. Johns, Nassau, Putnam counties’ vacation rental plans

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – The state on Wednesday approved plans for St. Johns and Nassau counties to reopen vacation rentals.

An executive order that codifies the plan will be issued by the Nassau County attorney on Thursday.

Both counties’ plans outline news rules that rental owners must follow in order to reopen.

Nassau County

There will be 10-person occupancy cap per unit.

Any guest who recently went on a cruise or who traveled from the New York Tri-State area or Louisiana will have to self-quarantine for 14 days and notify the health department.

Check-ins and checkouts will be done remotely.

Masks and gloves will be provided.

And, to ensure guest safety, all rental units will be closed for 18 hours after checkout to allow time for cleaning and inspection.

“Six to eight hours would be sufficient rather than 18 hours,” said Theron Rogers, who owns a vacation rental that overlooks the ocean in Fernandina Beach, told News4Jax on Tuesday.

But Rogers said he still looks forward to guests renting out his home, known as Ebb Tide Cottage, once again.

“It’s a pretty popular place year-round and we’ve really taken a hit with the coronavirus issue,” he said. “We’ve had several bookings that we’ve had to refund, a tremendous amount of money, and it’s cost us a tremendous burden.”

Rogers said his guests can guarantee Ebb Tide Cottage will be safe.

“I would like (them) to know that we’re taking all the precautions necessary to protect our guests,” he said. "And the house will be sanitized, cleaned and everything will be disinfected.”

He added that he encourages future guests to bring their own pillow.

Under the plan, any owner not following the rules could face a second-degree misdemeanor that includes a $500 fine and or 60 days in jail.

St. Johns County

St. Johns County’s plan outlines details regarding a variety of factors including reservations, staffing, cleanings, and inspections.

St. Johns County’s Plan for Opening Short-Term Vacation Rentals prohibits reservations or visitors from states with more than 500 cases per every 100,000 residents. Those states included Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia, as of May 20.

As the list is updated frequently and states can rise above or fall below the 500 cases per every 100,000 residents threshold, it is recommended that short-term vacation rental owners and rental companies view the CDC COVID Data Tracker frequently at https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/index.html to verify the number of cases in the states from which they are taking reservations.

For additional information, visit www.sjcfl.us to review the plan for opening short-term vacation rentals in the county.

On Wednesday, the state also approved a plan for Duval County’s vacation rentals to reopen.

In late March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned vacation rentals in an executive order aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. DeSantis announced Friday that, beginning Monday, the ban on vacation rentals could be lifted if county and state officials gave the go-ahead. Counties can submit vacation rental reopening plans to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which will have to sign off on the proposals, according to the governor.

Putnam County

Short-term vacation rentals were also approved to operate in Putnam County on Friday.

For compliance with the requirements for weekly reporting of arrival/departure and home zip codes of renters, as well as an affidavit of compliance with the procedures listed in the safety plan, short-term vacation rental owners/managers can send this information electronically to pio@putnam-fl.com, or mail to 2509 Crill Avenue, Suite 200, Palatka, Florida 32177.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


About the Authors: