Osceola County submits plan for reopening vacation rental homes

Leaders in Osceola County submitted a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis outlining their plans to reopen short-term vacation rental properties in the county.

The plan, submitted late Friday, places several new restrictions on property owners and renters in an attempt to create a safer environment during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Among the proposals in the plan:

  • Property owners and managers shall adopt the CDC-related guidelines that are for public spaces, businesses, schools, and homes. These reopen guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting expand upon what the State of Florida and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation already have in place for safety and sanitation for all lodging.
  • Property owners and managers shall provide COVID-19 guidance of local restrictions that are in place during the guests' stay, including closures, curfews, and other related local information. The county will post online where this updated local information can be accessible to lodging operators and guests.
  • All vacation rentals shall follow the SAFEHOME Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professional (VRHP) and Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) Cleaning Guidelines for COVID-19.
  • Any person coming from a highly-infected area, as defined per the governor's guidelines, must reserve a minimum stay of 14 nights and follow CDC self-quarantine guidelines.
  • Vacation rentals may not be used for events or group gatherings that exceed the maximum occupancy.

On Monday, Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudhary said leaders tried to work with all stakeholders in the process of creating the guidelines, including property owners and the owners of properties in the same neighborhoods as those vacation homes.

She says they hope to take all precautions in reopening the industry, an essential one in Osceola at that, while not punishing those operating correctly for the mistakes of those not doing it right.

Gov. DeSantis on Monday encouraged counties to submit plans for the vacation home industry in order to work toward reopening it. Osceola County leaders said they are now waiting on a response to their proposal from the Governor’s Office.