Lower Township Shuts Down Vacation Rentals

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North Cape May, NJ – As real estate prices escalate in Cape May and Cape May Point, savvy second-home owners and investors have jumped ship and turned their sights north of the canal to Lower Township. To towns like North Cape May, Cape May Beach, Townbank. What once were low key communities of two-bedroom bungalows now are awash in upscale dwellings.

And vacation rentals. It’s just a five minute drive to Cape May beaches, home owners like to remind prospective renters in online ads.

Vacation Rental Ban

COVID-19 has now squashed those vacation rentals. Lower Township took the unprecedented step this week of banning what it calls marketplace rentals. In a robocall sent out Wednesday night announcing the move, Mayor Frank Sippel said Lower Township has enacted a resolution prohibiting short-term lodging rentals until further notice.

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It’s the toughest action taken so far on local vacation rentals. Many towns fear the influx of visitors could overtax the fragile local medical system during the coronavirus crisis. Senior citizens, a quarter of Cape May County’s population, are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

Cape May County Mayors

Mayors from all 16 Cape May County municipalities asked second-home owners not to visit the area. The mayors issued a statement this week “strongly urging the elimination of all short-term rentals for the duration of the Governor’s executive orders.”  The mayors appealed to all realtors, online rental platforms, and individuals to comply.

Lower Township went one step further.

Police Action

“Our police department along with code enforcement will do everything in their power to identify these properties and enforce this recent resolution,”  the mayor said in the robocall. He encouraged residents to report any vacation rentals in their neighborhood to Town Hall.

The area is already filled with early, out-of-town vacationers escaping the virus in urban areas.

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A Delaware Bay lookout near the Cape May Lewes ferry – meant for three or four vehicles – was lined car-to-car in the middle of the day Thursday. Surfers rode choppy waves in the bay. Others watched. From the looks of the scene you’d never know a pandemic was afoot.

About Jane Kashlak

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