With tourists canceling their beach holidays and vacationing fishermen forced to scrap their charter tours, rental property owners are facing a wipeout. In Florida alone, 478 claims were filed by the end of last week for lost rental income, and BP had already paid out $86,439.89.
Kevin Hayes, business manager of Paradise Beach Homes, a property management company that manages about 140 homes, says that "reservations fell off a cliff" a couple weeks after spill. Families looking to rent summer homes have been scared off by images of tar balls and oil-soaked animals in other Gulf areas, but cancellations at Paradise Beach began coming in when the crisis hit close to home.
"On Friday, the first tar balls hit Pensacola. That's when it became real," Hayes said.
Although Hayes has only just begun the claims process, he expects it to be onerous and ongoing. His homes go for $1,000 to $8,000 a week. Multiple that by 140 homes, and the potential loss totals as much as $4 million a month.
The oil spill could prove dismal for property managers, like Hayes, who expected a strong year. "It really is scary. The first four months and advance reservations were great," he said. "We were really on an upswing this year, but now, with this, we just don't."