VB encourages the cancelation of short-term rental reservations, but they can’t prevent visitors from coming

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Virginia Beach is encouraging owners and operators of short-term rental properties to cancel reservations amid the coronavirus state of emergency.

At this point it’s just a request.

While Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D-Virginia) set of executive orders have brought much of the beach tourism economy to a halt, there is no mention of hotels or Airbnb rentals.

It’s a fact that has upset Jean Draper, who lives in Sandbridge.

“I just don’t understand people,” Draper wrote on her Facebook page Sunday. “Why is Virginia not following the lead of other states and canceling beach rentals with full deposits back?”

Draper attached a picture of an Oceanfront property in Sandbridge that showed at least 10-12 cars in the driveway, she said.

A large rental property in Virginia Beach has a full driveway even under a state of emergency (Photo courtesy: Jean Draper)

While many commented on her post and chastised city leadership for their lack of action, legally all the city can do is “encourage” renters make cancellations.

“Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which means localities have authority to the extent the General Assembly has approved,” said Julie Hill, a spokeswoman for the city. “Other states, like North Carolina, are home rule states, which means localities have lots of local control, including the ability to ban visitors.”

Dare County leaders, which is home to the heavily visited Outer Banks, banned all visitors and non-resident property owners three weeks ago because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Acting City Manager Tom Leahy will be sending out a letter this week to all 2,700 short-term rentals on record that include copies of the governor’s executive orders, according to Hill.

Sandbridge Realty, which manages the rental property in Draper’s picture, had a full list of precautions it was taking to ensure scheduled vacations could still move forward. They include the extensive cleaning of touchpoints and linins.

The page also mentions, however, that if vacationers still do come to vacation there isn’t much to do.

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