As we all gear up to welcome vacationers back to our beaches, some homeowners have been voicing concerns as to far-reaching responsibilities in regard to their guests’ health. Many homeowners are dependent upon rental income to pay their mortgages, and don’t have the luxury of pulling their homes from rental programs.
“I’m very torn,” says a non-resident homeowner of 17 years, who owns a vacation property in Duck and who wishes to remain anonymous. “What if someone stays in my house and then gets ill? What is my obligation as a homeowner?”
The Duck homeowner relies on rental income to pay the mortgage, but feels that we’re being hasty in inviting all vacationers at once, citing that non-resident property owners were only recently allowed access in a phased opening. Have the standards been unfair? With the island being accessible to tourists right on the heels of NRPO access, remote property owners are now rushing to prepare their homes for their first guests.
We all understand people’s desire to take a vacation: “I know how much I look forward to getting away to the Outer Banks and if I lived in a (Covid-19) hotspot, I’d be so anxious,” says the Duck homeowner. “I love the Outer Banks, the businesses and the beaches. If non-resident homeowners had been allowed prior access, at least there would have been a wave of people who care who would have provided some financial support to local businesses.”
Now, with people expected to arrive en masse, she says, “What if the best you can do is not enough? Do we feel morally OK in offering our home to a family? It’s about the health and safety of our visitors.”
Bob and Jewel Monroe of McLean, Virginia have had their oceanfront home in a rental program for the 23 years since they built it in Southern Shores. “Due to our advanced age and health issues, we’re withdrawing our house from the market,” Jewel explains. She and her husband will both turn 95 this summer.
Many of the families who stay in the Monroes’ home rebook year after year. While the Monroes don’t want to disappoint their perennial visitors, they’re more concerned about their renters’ personal welfare and have returned 25 weeks’ worth of rental deposits. “Unless (our management company) can guarantee that the virus can be eliminated through cleaning, I feel that we need to do the best we can to protect everybody, and I mean everybody,” says Bob. “The only thing we can do is to bite the bullet and lock up the place until this is all over.”