Colorado vacation rentals offered as coronavirus relief lodging

Colorado vacation rental companies, brought to a standstill by the novel coronavirus and ensuing stay-at-home orders, have banded together to provide optional lodging for people who have been adversely effected by the pandemic.

The relief program, started in late March in partnership with property owners, who like the companies provide relief housing for qualifying individuals, has been dubbed: “Vacation Rentals to the Rescue.”

The coordinated Colorado effort includes Premier Vacation Rentals, Effortless Rental Group in Denver, Red Cliffs Properties, Vacation Accommodations of Durango and the Vacation Rental Management Association.

With ongoing networking additional property owners and companies may join the effort.

“Our company manages over 300 properties in 13 different markets. We’ve got over 40 properties who have volunteered for the program,” said Chris Bettin, founder and CEO of Premier Vacation Rentals Group. Premier has properties in Denver, Colorado Springs, Vail, Beaver Creek, Durango, Ouray, Ridgeway and Steamboat Springs, and other western cities outside of Colorado.

“We’ve housed just about everyone of those units we’ve had volunteered, (and) we’ve had a handful we haven’t filled,” Bettin said.

All combined, the participating companies and property owners have about 500 homes across multiple markets.

People who have been housed include first responders and frontline medical professionals, such as a sheriff’s deputy, a Veterans Affairs nurse and an emergency room physician, among others. Some participants have family members with autoimmune disorders, or who are highly susceptible to a virus, and the lodging provides much needed isolation. The lodging is not intended for use of someone who is positive for coronavirus.

A doctor in Durango is staying at a downtown property, relieved, for the moment, that he’s not going home to his family and risking them to possible exposure of coronavirus.

“As a family, we have gone through so much stress, fear, tears, and sleepless nights,” the doctor’s wife said in a written testimonial to the program. “This company has made an unbearable journey now bearable because we now have a safe place for Matt and a safe place for our family.”

Participants will qualify on a case-by-case basis and undergo a screening process including background checks. There’s a one-time damage waiver fee of $49. There’s also a one time cleaning fee, which varies depending on the property, and could run up to $150. Stays are based on weekly renewals and can be extended for multiple weeks. The fees are one time, whether the participant stays for a week or five weeks. Properties include condominiums, townhomes and single-family homes, some valued as high as $2 million.

People seeking to apply for the program can go online to the Premiere Vacation Rentals website and click on the COVID-19 & Lodging bar at the top of the page. The program will last for at least as long as stay-at-home orders are in effect.

“Though we operate as competitors in a normal business environment, this crisis presents a unique opportunity for us to unite around a common cause and support individuals in our communities who are in need of lodging during this crisis,” Bitten said. “It’s extremely rewarding to do this right now.”

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