Over the past few months, we’ve talked quite a bit about the upcoming peak vacation rental season. As the weather gets warmer, most of us get the itch to get away. Whether it’s a long weekend in the mountains of Tennessee, a one-week stay on a beautiful Florida beach, or an extended vacation overseas, we look forward to a little rest, relaxation, and maybe a little sightseeing. What we don’t want to deal with is a vacation rental home that isn’t as advertised. So how can you avoid getting scammed?
Fortunately, travel expert Ed Perkins of SmarterTravel.com has a few tips to make sure everything runs smoothly when you’re away. Here is a quick run-down of a few of his tips, which first appeared in USA Today.
Know the risks: Renting a vacation home is a risk. According to Perkins, you “have almost no after-the-fact consumer protections beyond ordinary contract law, and there is no government trade agency regulating the advertising or sale of rentals.” To protect yourself, he says, you need to minimize risk.
Check out the property in advance: Perhaps the least risky way to arrange a vacation rental is to check it out in person to make sure it meets your standards and needs before making a commitment. This might not be practical, however, if you’re booking a rental across the country or the globe.
Rent a “curated” property: Outside of visiting a rental in advance, the best way to reduce risk is to “rent through an agency that manages a ‘curated’ list of units.” These agencies only offer units that their staff or representatives have “personally vetted” and they act as true agencies with a contractual responsibility to renters.
Rent a managed property: Many vacation rentals are individual units in large condos or complexes and many such are managed by major hotel chains or a local on-site management company, according to Perkins. Renting a managed property, which are well-maintained, represented accurately, and usually have a resident manager to handle problems, generally reduce “all levels of risk.”
Rent with a credit card: A credit card’s “charge back provision” can protect you from fraud or a rental that is unavailable for some reason but be aware – charge-backs don’t cover dissatisfaction claims. Another bonus: A credit card leaves a paper trail if things go horribly wrong.
Consider alternatives: Bed and breakfasts and single-room rentals might be a better option depending on your wants, needs, or budget. Additionally, extended-stay hotels, which mostly operate as divisions of large hotel chains, also provide perks such as housekeeping services which could make your stay more enjoyable.
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