What Florida STR Owners Can Legally Do Under Moratorium


Times are tough. If you own a short-term rental in Florida, you know this all too well. Since late March, short-term rentals have been banned by the governor of Florida.


Even as the state starts to reopen, STRs are still banned. Hotels, motels, and other public lodging establishments remain open, and many STR owners are saying it’s not fair.


Legislators are fighting to bring back business to short-term rentals. Until then, use this time to review your policies and pivot if necessary. All types of business operations will change due to Coronavirus, and STRs are not an exception.


Know the Exceptions to the FL Moratorium and Pivot Your Business


Looking to get around the rules and avoid this interruption in your business? Take advantage of the state’s exceptions on the current moratorium. Governor DeSantis has allowed short-term rentals to house people engaging in “non-vacation commercial activities and people performing military, emergency, governmental, health or infrastructure response.”


Shifting your marketing focus from tourists to a different target audience could allow you to keep your rental calendar full while the moratorium is still in place.

You could also change your rental from “short-term” to a longer-term lease.


Rentals that last for over 30 days are still allowed to operate. Looking for longer-term tenants could guarantee income for the next few months as the state begins to reopen.


Prepare for Future Bookings of Your Florida Short-Term Rental


There is a light at the end of the tunnel for STR owners no matter how this pandemic shakes out. In any case, though, COVID-19 is likely to change the way that tourists book accommodation for the future.


Hotels and motels don’t provide as many opportunities for social distancing. STRs are starting to look more appealing for guests and families who want a more private accommodation experience.


So we suggest you do what you can now to prepare your short-term rental to take advantage of what’s next for the STR industry. Here are three easy steps you can take to ensure you’re a step ahead of area competition…


Review and Update Rental Contracts


You probably don’t have anything in your contracts regarding a global pandemic. Add a COVID clause to prevent any lawsuits if your tenants get sick.


If you need help with how to properly word this type of legal clause, or simply want a second pair of eyes, a Florida liability attorney can be a great resource to you.


Change Cleaning and Sterilization Protocols


Do you currently clean your short-term rentals? You might want to put in more elbow grease to ensure your guests that they’re safe. Do you hire someone to clean for you? It might be time to have a talk about their process.


Proper sterilization is key to keeping your short-term rental in business and keeping your guests safe. Failing to clean or sterilize your property could put you at fault if a guest is “injured” or has to pay damages as the result of being exposed to COVID-19.


Review and Update Your Liability Insurance Policy


If you do decide to open your short-term rentals up to commercial activities, you will need to update your liability insurance. Homeowner’s insurance is not enough to cover short-term rentals to tourists.


Additionally, your traditional short-term rental insurance may not cover the new tenants or guests that you accept as the result of COVID-19. A commercial package policy will cover more damage than your current plan and ensure that you do not lose any more money during 2020.



Moreover, if your business has already been interrupted as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to file a claim. If you do not have business interruption coverage, it may be time to consider getting it for your STR.


Business owners of all kinds have to take things day by day and reevaluate their plan due to COVID-19. Take action and be prepared. When you can resume business, you will be able to do so with less stress.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.