Coronavirus Updates

3 Ways Short-Term Rental Owners Can Help Frontline COVID-19 Responders

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Amid the chaos of a pandemic that’s shutting down the world, it’s easy to feel out of control. Using your “time, talents, or treasures” to help improve a tough situation can give you some peace of mind.

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Those of us with short-term rentals are uniquely equipped to offer housing to COVID-19 responders. These responders need to be close to work—and distanced from their families—during this crisis. Read on for three ways you can help!

3 Ways to Help Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Pandemic

1. Airbnbs for COVID-19 responders

Airbnb is encouraging hosts to provide “frontline stays” for healthcare workers and first responders during this crisis. The company and its partner organizations review submissions from COVID-19 responders and match them to hosts who have offered their places. Airbnb will waive its fees for the first 100,000 bookings through the program.

What does it take to host a COVID-19 responder through Airbnb?

  • Your listing must be an entire place or a hotel room with a private entrance.
  • You must adhere to social distancing practices with guests.
  • You must commit to cleaning protocols for responders.
  • You should offer these stays for free or at a discount.

If you fit the criteria, you can easily offer your existing Airbnb listing by visiting the website and answering some simple questions. To learn more about the program, click here.

Related: Airbnb & Coronavirus: How to Survive Short-Term Rental Losses

2. Use word-of-mouth to find a responder in need

Let’s not forget that we all likely have someone in our social sphere who could use help! If you’re able to offer a clean and comfy space for free, let it be known.

I filled my Airbnb through word-of-mouth before I had a chance to sign up for the Airbnb responder program. An old colleague texted me because she remembered that I own rental property. Her friend needed to distance himself from his wife and two children while working at a local hospital through the pandemic. My Airbnb unit was vacant, and I was happy to help.

After talking with the nurse, I offered him a free stay as long as he was willing to e-sign a lease and email me a photo of his driver's license and hospital badge for my records. He was more than happy to take these simple steps.

The paperwork gave me some protection, since I don’t know him personally and I didn’t have the third-party review of Airbnb’s program. The free stay gives him a chance to keep his wife and children healthy, without causing a financial burden for the family. It was a no-brainer for both of us!

Related: Market Data: How Coronavirus Has Affected Short-Term Rental Occupancy

3. House a traveling medical professional with Furnished Finder

If your financial situation doesn’t allow you to swing a free or deeply discounted stay for a COVID-19 responder, don’t worry. There are other ways to connect directly with medical professionals who need housing.

Furnished Finder, for example, is a website focused on housing for traveling nurses and other healthcare professionals. The site doesn’t have a specific COVID-19 response program for local responders. Still, it’s likely these tenants will be on the frontlines, whether they are from your city or just now moving to it.

(Technically, Furnished Finder is open to other types of traveling professionals, as well, but 98% of stays are for medical professionals.)

According to its website, Furnished Finder is the largest no-cost housing resource for travel nurses and medical staffing companies. Property owners can list a space for a flat annual fee of $99, regardless of how many tenants pass through in that time. Potential tenants aren’t charged anything for finding housing through the site.

Be aware that Furnished Finder may require a longer time commitment than the other options above. The average stay of a tenant found through Furnished Finder is about three months.

Furthermore, you’ll have to do paperwork as you would with a long-term tenant. This means screening them, signing a lease, collecting rent, and so on. Furnished Finder partners with Cozy, a free online property management platform, which should make this relatively easy to do.

Final Thoughts

As my four-year-old daughter has told me repeatedly, “This isn’t my normal world.”

Things are crazy. It’s not fun. But we can all do something.

If you have a furnished rental and the means to donate it to a COVID-19 responder, consider the first two ideas in this article. If your finances don’t allow you to offer a free space, there are still ways to help house medical professionals who need quality homes while they work on the frontlines.

Do what you can. Stay safe and be well.

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Questions? Comments? Updates to these programs? 

Leave a comment below.

Megan Greathouse is a real estate investor, mom, and wife located in St. Louis. Since jumping into real estate in 2017, her primary focus has been small multifamily rentals. She currently owns 10 u...
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    Dave Rav from Summerville, SC
    Replied 5 months ago
    Very neat and novel idea!
    Kathy Henley Rental Property Investor from St. Louis, MO
    Replied about 1 month ago
    Hey Megan, My furnished apartment has a 'private entrance' but the building is a 4-plex. We all use the rear entry door to a common hallway. Would this common door fail my eligibility to the program?
    Megan Greathouse Rental Property Investor from Saint Louis, MO
    Replied about 1 month ago
    Hmm... I would look it up on AirBnB's website. I think the "private entrance" refers to the exterior door.