Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday issued an executive order, reserving short-term rentals and hotels for essential workers only.
“Not leisure, travel, not vacationers,” said Lamont.
The executive order goes into effect Friday. The governor says this is an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus and keep people home.
“We’re trying everything we can to limit transportation throughout the state and intrastate following on the president’s transportation advisory,” Lamont explained.
This comes after officials in the rental industry say they wouldn’t be surprised if Connecticut property owners were hesitant to rent their property this season.
“(Property owners) realize who’s renting and they may be a tad more hesitant to do it. They may ask a few more questions,” said Adam Mancini, broker and owner of Ann McBride Real Estate in Stonington.
Those who advocate for fair housing have seen signs of worry amongst property owners too.
“We are getting calls from Fairfield County from people who are wondering if there is any way to block someone who is coming from New York City,” said Erin Kemple, executive director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.
Kemple says she’s advised those property owners they can’t discriminate against someone who is disabled or you suspect they are disabled, and barring people from a COVID-19 hot spot is essentially the same.
“If you suspect someone has some type of a virus or any kind of illness, it is illegal to refuse to rent to them,” said Kemple.
The governor’s executive order applies only to short term rentals and hotels. However, long term rentals have also been impacted by the effects and fears surrounding COVID-19.
“People are having difficulty actually getting in touch with their landlord for things like repairs or other kinds of problems,” said Kemple who explained some landlords are afraid to go into units and expose themselves to other people.
There are other concerns too. With an unprecedented number of unemployment claims, The Fair Housing Center says it estimates 300,000 renters in the state will not be able to pay rent. While the governor has said there will be no evictions or foreclosures for 60 days, there’s concern for those who actually own the units, despite the mortgage grace periods that are now being offered.
“(Landlords) are concerned that they will not be able to pay their mortgage because they are not going on to get rent from their tenants this month,” said Kemple.