Much like the rest of the world, the Poconos certainly wasn’t spared from the destruction that COVID brought. I wanted to provide an update on what has happened so far, what we’re seeing now, and what we might be able to expect going forward.
What’s happened so far?
Unsurprisingly, when COVID began really making its impact felt in early March, we saw many renter cancellations across the board. Anything from a week out to a months out we saw our future guests heeding the advice of their politicians, cancelling their trips and sheltering-in-place. Airbnb took a blanket approach of forcing their hosts to reimburse these future guests 100%, regardless of any extenuating circumstances. Obviously, the hosts were frustrated that they were not given a vote in this decision and, furthermore, felt wronged that they have to own the full financial burden. Hosts voiced their concerns to Airbnb and Airbnb took some action to help right the wrong… (you can see the video HERE )
Needless to say, making back close to ~12.5% of what hosts would have make is a pretty small consolation prize. However, around this time something interesting started to happen. The wave of cancellations opened up the property’s calendar and guests started seeking long-term stays (30 days+) to “work remotely”. We (Pocono Rental Management) were able to take advantage of this new opportunity and were able to have extremely successful Spring months, an otherwise quiet time of year in the Pocono-region.
Now right around this time, both Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Mario Scavello both took hard-line approaches in shutting down short-term Airbnb rentals. The rationale behind this was there was a noticeable spike in cases in Monroe County and it was becoming clear that individuals were fleeing urban areas to come to the Poconos and potentially carrying the disease with them. The hosts that acted quickly were able to get month-long+ renters in their home prior to any ban being implemented but many other hosts were left with vacant homes, mortgage payments, and no immediate end in sight.
Where we are now?
While certain areas of Pennsylvania are beginning to open up, the Poconos is not one of those areas. The area is still under lockdown, businesses are closed, restaurants are only providing take-out food, all while Memorial Day quickly approaches. As of now, the lockdown is in effect until June 3rd but Tom Wolf has extended this date a few times already and, if things do open by June 3rd, it will certainly be in a limited capacity.
In the last 7-10 days, rental inquiries have began picking back up! Whether it be from frustration or boredom, people are certainly looking to escape the captivity of their homes and enjoy the outdoors again. Both Governor Wolf and Senator Scavello haven’t really spoken directly to short-term rentals since their bold proclamations late March and many hosts are on the fence as to whether they can begin renting again to single-family households or whether any rentals in any capacity are prohibited.
What does the future hold?
It’s hard to say. Cases are dropping in Pennsylvania and both citizens and business-owners alike are becoming increasingly frustrated by the state closures. I imagine there will be a “light” reopening coming in early June which will closely be monitored to make sure there’s not a spike in cases.