Cape May Bans Vacation Rentals, Includes Hotels


Cape May, NJ – At the beginning of the year, as COVID-19 exploded in China, owners of Cape May vacation rental houses fussed with new photos for their web ads and scheduled off-season construction. Early reservations poured in. 2020 looked like it would be yet another good year for the vacation rental business.

What happened Sunday was unthinkable a month or two ago.

Cape May shut down all vacation rentals until the end of May.

City Manager Jerome Inderwies issued an executive order prohibiting all “transient, seasonal and/or short-term rentals.” An addendum to the order sets an end date of May 22 for the COVID-19 emergency action.


Governor’s Warning

Cape May acted just a day after Governor Phil Murphy warned Cape May County to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously.

Since the coronavirus crisis hit, cars with out-of-state license plates have flooded the area. The off-season population surge drove a wedge between locals and visitors. Many residents feared the visitors would bring COVID-19 with them. Some of the newcomers ignored the state’s stay-at-home edict and wandered freely.  Last week, Cape May and Cape May Point closed their beaches.

Inderwies said he was issuing the edict “in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and to further protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens, residents, property owners and visitors.”


Hotels Included

The new ban applies to rentals of private homes “whether by owner or owner’s agent.” The prohibition also extends to hotels, motels and guest houses. Many hotels are already closed.

Cape May means business. Violators and anyone who aids or abets violations are subject to arrest and prosecution as disorderly persons.

Last week, Cape May County’s 16 mayors urged a voluntary end to short-term rentals while the Governor’s stay-at-home order is in effect. They said local towns could enact tighter rules, if needed.

Lower Township was the first to do so. The township threatened police action to enforce the edict.


Cape May Point Rentals

Cape May Point followed with a rental ban of its own.

The Point’s Deputy Mayor Anita van Heeswyk says the town has already instituted a 14-day quarantine for new visitors and shut down its beach and Pavilion Circle park.

About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.