Senate Also Urges Banks To Waive Fees & Penalties During Pandemic
Trenton – Those who were forced to cancel vacation or business rentals with so-called “transient accommodations” such as VRBO because of the Covid-19 crisis would be entitled to refunds, according to legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Cryan and Senator Kip Bateman that was approved by the Senate today.
The bill, S-2345, would require refunds for reservations made during a public health emergency, a state of emergency or when travel restrictions have been imposed. The measure would be retroactive to March 1.
“The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the lives and livelihoods or nearly everyone,” said Senator Cryan. “People have lost out on vacations and business travel at the same time many are also losing income and often their jobs. They shouldn’t also be forced to pay for reservations they can no longer keep, much less afford.”
“This virus has upended every aspect of our lives, including travel and vacation,” said Senator Kip Bateman (R-16). “No one should be charged for an unused rental during this time of emergency, especially when we are asking people to stay home. Refunding would-be renters is the right thing to do.”
The bill would apply to services such as VRBO. It defines “transient space marketplace” as a digital platform on a hosted Internet website where accommodations are reserved in exchange for monetary or other compensation. It would not include hotels, dormitories, hospitals, private residences served by a realtor or those with leases of at least 90 consecutive days.
The online reservation services have different refund policies in place across different platforms. The bill would provide a “consistent and fair standard,” Senator Cryan said.
Senator Cryan praised Airbnb for its customer-oriented refund practices during the Covid-19 crisis.
“It’s one thing for companies to have refund policies on the books but it’s another to actually follow them,” said Senator Cryan. “It’s a shame that we need to put this into law for the companies that aren’t not responsive in emergencies such as this.”
The Senate also approved a resolution, SR-64, sponsored by Senator Cryan, Senator Bateman and Senator Nellie Pou, urging financial institutions to waive bank fees and suspend credit card penalties, late fees, and interest payments for the duration of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.