Is It Safe to Rent a House This Summer? Bring the Clorox Wipes

If you’re feeling like you could use a change of scenery, then you’re not alone. The most exciting way I shake up my routine these days is by putting on a pair of jeans and going for a drive, and the idea of spending a few nights somewhere new sounds amazing. Maybe you’re hoping to spirit your family away to the beach or the mountains or even just check out a new town, but you’re wondering: Is it safe to rent a house this summer?

“There is a little risk in everything we do in life," Gabriela Andujar Vazquez, M.D., infectious disease physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, tells Romper.“Everything from now on is going to require a lot of trust. Platforms who rent houses will have to attest to having cleaned it properly.”The virus is so new, however, that it's hard to know exactly how to sterilize against it. This means if you do rent a house,you'll probably want to bring your own cleaning suppliesand do a bit of sanitizing yourself.

If you’re working with a realtor to rent a house(which may be the case especially if you’re planning to rent for a few months),the experience of finding the right rental will be differentand you won’t be as free to bop around seeing multiple houses in a day.

“As with most other industries,much of the promotion and touring options have gone digitaleven more so than before. Video tours, floor plans, and matterport videos have been tools in the past but are now pretty much required to give agents and buyers as much preview as possible before considering an in-person showing,” Meghan French, a real estate agent in Portland, Oregon tells Romper. Your first visit to a house might be via a FaceTime tour instead of in-person, so it’s a good idea to have a list of things you specifically want to see that might be overlooked if you're not in the physical space. 

If you (understandably) want to see the house for yourself, you can do drive-bys to check out the neighborhood, French suggests, then narrow it down to only a small handful of houses you’re truly interested in.“Usually families like to tour and see homes together but with restrictions on how many people can be in a home at once and mandatory masks and gloves [in some cases], it can be hard to accommodate.

Many families like to rent a house with another family, both because it’s fun and it cuts down on costs. “Experts said that if both families have been quarantining and limiting their exposure to others, this is pretty safe,”NPR reported. However, “with every new person under the roof, the risk rises,” pediatrician David Hill M.D., an author and American Academy of Pediatrics Spokesperson,tells Romper, so it’s best to keep it to just your own family, or one other family who has been practicing social distancing.

Even if the house has been thoroughly cleaned beforehand, it's still smart to wipe down high-touch surfaces like cabinet pulls, appliance handles, door knobs, faucets, and remotes.“The coronavirus can live for hours to days on surfaces like countertops and doorknobs. How long it survives depends on the material the surface is made from,” Dr. Sonpal tells Romper. The virus can live on metals for as long as seven days and on paper products and glass for four days, per Healthline. "Emerging data suggests that fabrics like linens pose a very low risk of passing coronavirus," Hill says, so couches and upholstered chairs are not a huge concern.

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