ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. — With new improved sanitation protocols in place, dozens of vacation rental property owners and managers on Anna Maria Island are pushing to get their properties back online before Memorial Day weekend hits.

What You Need To Know

  • Florida vacation rentals in limbo

  • Property managers on Anna Maria Island pushing for speedy reopening

  • Vacation places still having to turn away guests

In Phase 1, outlined in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step plan, counties may seek approval to operate vacation rentals by submitting a written request and county vacation rental safety plan to the Florida Department of Business and Regulation.

On Monday morning, the Manatee County Tourist Development Council took the first step towards allowing vacation rentals to reopen. The group voted 7-0 to move forward with drafting the plan, which now puts it in the hands of Manatee County commissioners. Commissioners will review the plan Tuesday and are expected to vote on whether they should submit it to the state.

While the plan was being drafted Monday, Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, confirmed that it included a request for the state to allow property managers to start accepting rentals by May 22.

But with the end unclear, the damage left behind from 9 weeks of canceled rentals could be catastrophic for some Anna Maria Island property managers.

Emma Stringer, manager of Beach Retreats, estimates her company lost $600,000 since mid-March.

“Salons are now opening, gyms are opening, and we’re at a standstill,” she said.

Stringer manages 34 properties on the island and says one of her biggest frustrations has been not knowing when they will be able to accept reservations again. She says while she’s had to cancel all of her bookings, some clients are requesting refunds and booking at hotels just down the street.

“We have people that we have to cancel on because they can’t come here to stay in a vacation rental, but then they’re saying to us ‘can we have a recommendation on a hotel we can stay at because we’re coming anyways'” she said.

Nicole Kaleta of Once Upon A Beach says she’s lost over $300,000 on her 22 properties since spring break. She’s frustrated by the lack of clarity surrounding the rules.

“Its kind of just created confusion,” she said. “Can we legally tell someone from New York that they can’t come down? I don’t know! That might be opening us up to a lawsuit, we have no idea.”

The Manatee County Commission is expected to review the full plan and vote on it Tuesday. Should it pass, it will be sent to Gov. DeSantis’ administration for review. ​