Rental homes make cleaning changes to keep guests safe; Chicago officials threaten fines for parties

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Regional road trips and home shares are becoming new trends in traveling this summer, but is staying away from home a good idea during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Safety is top of mind as families look to vacation a bit closer to home.

"We think some of this is because people are getting more comfortable with work from home, and they might be willing to extend a weekend or even a week long trip to do a little bit of work over video, and be able to stay engaged in their profession," said Jeff Hurst, CEO of vacation rental booking platform VRBO. "A lot of it is also that many people like my family had to cancel their spring break, and so you're looking at makeup for some lost time that you've had over the quarantine."

Airbnb recently updated its cleaning policy, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Airbnb requires a 24-hour waiting period before entering the property after guests leave.

Airbnb is also offering an option to keep homes empty for a set period of 72 hours in between stays, with no activity other than cleaning.

Local Airbnb host Suzanne Marie has been cleaning up after guests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I go in there usually with my husband and we spend an hour and a half cleaning," she said. "Normally wipe everything down in the kitchen and bathroom. Mop the floor. Airbnb has recommendations. They sent out an email saying please do it this way."

She said the biggest challenge to keep future guests safe was cleaning up after parties.

In June, Airbnb began blocking "single" night reservations to prevent parties, and banned all parties and large gatherings at listings in Chicago until further notice.

Chicago's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department issued a notice to property owners and renters, stating that they will be cited and fined if homes are used for large social gatherings or parties.

"I got an email from the city's business department saying as an Airbnb host, if I allowed any parties to happen that I could potentially be fined $5,000," Suzanne Marie said.

You can ask your vacation rental host if there have been parties on the property, or large get-togethers at the home you're renting, as well as what was done to clean up afterward.

If you're a renter, you should also ask your host how long it's been since the last guest was there, and specifically what was done to clean.

Experts say you may want to consider bringing disinfectant and wiping down spaces on your own.
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