WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Many beach towns across the Cape Fear region have passed orders shutting down short-term rentals in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Under Carolina Beach’s order, no new short-term rentals will be allowed until April 22, unless town council rescinds the order early. The measure encompasses big businesses like hotels and motels and also smaller scale rentals through Air BNB and VRBO.
“It is important to remember these Proclamation Orders are in an effort to protect the community by reducing the opportunity for new viral infection. The Town of Carolina Beach strongly advises individuals to follow the federal, state and local orders and guidelines," Chief Chris Spivey wrote.
Carolina Beach police say they’ve received 21 complaints from people regarding possible violations to the short-term rental rule. As of Friday, no one has been found to be in violation of the order.
People who violate the proclamation could face official notices, cease-and-desist orders and even criminal charges.
“Lets just be patient, let’s do this… this is not forever just for a couple of weeks, hopefully we can get over this by April/ May then we will have a summer left. If we don’t follow the rules, its gonna take a lot longer,” said Mayor LeAnn Pierce. "I’m in the hotel business myself… we’re in my hotel right now… it’s not been closed in 25 years and we’re closed too. It’s not just Air BNB or vacation rentals. We’re in this together and doing it for the betterment of the community.”
The town has also created an online form for people to notify police if property owners are not compliant with the rules.
People who live on the island say they saw a lot of people from out of town before the beaches were closed, but since the new restrictions on beach accesses and short term rentals were announced, there’s been few people venturing out.
Islander Richard Rigney says he’s grateful local leaders acted swiftly to pass restrictions on short term rentals.
“Made me feel secure, you know, you’re seeing cars with New York tags and thinking ‘What…. are they running from up there and bringing it down here?’ but other than that… nah people have grasped the reality of what’s going on. The best thing to do is to get it on over with,” said Rigney.