US: The New Jersey legislature approved a bill last Monday which would require many short-term rental companies to provide a refund for COVID-19 related cancellations.
Sponsored by Senators Joe Cryan and Kip Bateman, according to the legislature’s website, the bill passed through the senate with 37 approval votes to 3 abstentions.
Refunds will be required in either cash or in credit, allowing both Airbnb and Vrbo refund policies to fall in line with state law.
The bill specifies “transient accommodations,” which it defines as a digital platform or hosted internet website where accommodation is reserved for cash. It explicitly excludes hotels, dormitories, or long leases with either a private realtor or a term of over 90 days.
Senator Cryan said to Insider NJ: “People have lost out on vacations and business travel at the same time many are also losing income and often their jobs. They shouldn’t also be forced to pay for reservations they can no longer keep, much less afford.”
The pair of senators specifically praised Airbnb for their quick response and customer-oriented refund practices. The company also created a $250 million support program for its hosts, many of whom felt abandoned by the company’s quick refunding decision.
The law intends to create a unified standard for platforms in the state, many of whom have varying refund policies surrounding the coronavirus. If approved by the governor, the law would be retroactive to the period beginning March 1 for any cancellations required due to travel restrictions or public health related concerns.
Senator Bateman said: “No one should be charged for an unused rental during this time of emergency, especially when we are asking people to stay home. Refunding would-be renters is the right thing to do.”
The global pandemic has caused other major short-term rental legislation to pass. In New South Wales, a bill which initially read as a blanket ban on short-term rentals in the Australian state was clarified to be a limitation on people staying anywhere other than their homes.