CA Stay Home Order - What to do with Dec STR bookings

17 Replies

CA is again under orders that restrict travel. The county I am located in - Placer, North Lake Tahoe - is covered in the order, but is distinctly less vocal about deterring travel than South Lake Tahoe. There has been no official outreach to Placer county STR permit holders which contrasts to their extensive and clear outreach for the last shutdown.

Below is an excerpt from the FAQs on the site. It is pretty clear.  Should I go nuclear and cancel and refund all of my high season reservations?  If I honor reservations (assuming any out of state are for the minimum time required and I just assume my guests are following the rules), what about the people who want to cancel?  Do I let them cancel with the agreed upon cancellation terms, or should I give them a full refund? So far I have one long weekender from inside CA that is requesting a full refund or the ability to re-schedule.  I'm not even sure how it would be possible to carry a credit like that for Airbnb... maybe just say I will give her a special offer equal to the cancelation fee I was paid out if she books another time?

So folks: Either what are you doing with you STRs in CA, or what would you do if the below order was in effect for your property?

As Always, Thank you in advance! - Melissa


Under a Regional Stay Home Order, can hotels, vacation rentals, and short-term lodging sites accept reservations?

When any California region is under a Regional Stay Home Order, no hotel or lodging entity in California can accept or honor out of state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required for quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired.

Additionally, hotels and lodging entities in a county under a Regional Stay Home Order cannot accept or honor in-state reservations for non-essential travel.

Hotels or other commercial and residential buildings may offer lodging for essential functions and travel including COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures, treatment measures, accommodation for essential workers, or housing solutions, including measures to protect homeless populations.

Hey @Melissa Bovee , that is a tough question. I would sell that place and buy one where things are not so unfriendly! But you could essentially let the guests make the decision. Let the chips fall where they may.

Has AirBNB cancelled the reservations for you? What is hard to say is if the booker (AirBNB) is more on the hook than the owner. AirBNB has a COVID policy. I would think that they would refund the bookings automatically.

In March and July here in Texas when things were shutdown, AirBnB automatically refunded 100% of the trip to the guests. It was out of our hands.  This was for guests that booked pre-shutdown. 

I guess the question is, do you want to adhere to the state laws or not? I'm not suggesting what you should do, but if you're ok with not going along with the guidelines and maintain the existing bookings - I think at the very least you need to honour any cancellation requests that come up. That's likely best for you anyways as if you don't, and the state is banning STR for the time being, you'll likely be forced to anyways.

I would reach out now to all your booked guests over the whatever time period the existing order is and offer a cancellation no charge. Better to have them do it right away so the dates are available for others than cancel 1 day before their visit. 

We have cancelled our guests, providing full refunds.  The law is clear.  It also seems like the right thing to do as COVID is exploding in CA, and there are near zero ICU beds available in most of the state.

@Melissa Bovee

During the first shutdown we cancelled everyone who requested...full refund, no questions asked, no explanations needed. If you felt that was the safest option for you and your family we agreed and didn't give anyone any hassles.  We feel like we got that good deed back in spades when it re-opened out here on the East Coast, our summer and fall filled up completely and we still have a few bookings through Christmas!  

Good Luck with your decision!

@John D. I’ve never canceled a guest before and (being new to this) I have a perception that there are consequences to me if I cancel guests. (So far I’m only in Airbnb)  Can you let me know how to go about canceling without getting these public reviews etc. that are written in the Airbnb “what happens if I cancel” docs? Thank you! 

@Melissa Bovee I've canceled AIRBNB reservations many times without incurring any penalty PRE-Covid and during. You just have to make sure that your guest agrees or it's an extenuating circumstance. 

Our state's Stay-At-Home Order would qualify as "Government-mandated obligations" and you should be able to cancel this on your end without any penalty on your account. Just make sure to call Airbnb and cite the SAH Order as your reason to cancel. 

Hope this helps. Glad to help if you have other questions regarding this. 

@Melissa Bovee@John D.  The law is not clear I assure you. First of all it's not a law it's an executive order that somehow the sheeple who live in California (no offense, they live here too) are choosing to abide by.

I personally cannot fathom why Californians keep listening to that idiot governor and I certainly wouldn't shut down my business based on some executive order but thats just me. I would have thought that by now people would be up in arms and revolting but doesn't look that way. We never shut down or stopped operations even when under our own Governors "executive order". If anybody is considered "essential" then I consider ability to earn a living "essential".

Now I'll step down from my soapbox and suggest to you that the last paragraph of the mandate provides all the wiggle room you need if you are one compelled to want to follow mandates:

"Hotels or other commercial and residential buildings may offer lodging for essential functions and travel including COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures, treatment measures, accommodation for essential workers, or housing solutions, including measures to protect homeless populations."

Sounds like you need to now be protecting your guests from "homelessness" and to ensure "essential functions" and you are well within the law.

Sorry to knock California; but I can't help it because your states government makes it so easy to hate.

@Melissa Bovee be a little careful when cancelling because host initiated cancellations can affect our super host status. It is best if you have the guest cancel.

I would personally send a message to guests stating, "CA has enacted a restriction on short term rental stays that limits guest stays unless traveling for essential functions. I need to confirm the nature of your travel if for essential purposes or ask you to cancel your reservation without penalty." This puts the requirement on the guest to either certify or cancel. Your job is not enforcement, so you just take the guest at their word. 

I am going to guess that many hosts will just completely ignore this and make no attempt to comply. It will be difficult for the state to enforce. Like with all COVID restrictions, the rule followers pay the price, while others do whatever they want.