Family travel tips
5 Tips on How to Book a Vacation Rental Safely
The benefits of staying in a vacation rental far outweigh the minimal risks. Vacation properties are often far more spacious, more ideally located and less expensive than comparable hotel rooms, and they’re appointed with all the comforts of home like full-size kitchens, en-suite bathrooms and many times private pools and spas. Privacy, kid-friendliness are also part of the package. But before you head out and impulse-book a 3 week stay in that “crazy good deal” home just steps from the beach, take a look at our tips on how to book a vacation rental safely and make sure you’re getting what you pay for.
1. Beware of Bargain Basement Rates.
The old adage holds true here. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers usually work by enticing a large number of renters to book in a short period of time, and they do this by lowballing rental rates like crazy. If one vacation rental listing is half the price of others for the same dates, there’s probably reason to be cautious there. Five to 15% off is common, but if you find something discounted 50% for no apparent reason, it’s best to steer clear.
2. Choose a Property Management Company.
There are tons of owners out there marketing their own vacation rentals, and many of them are doing a great job and providing great service to renters, but when you’re dealing with a one-person operation, you might not get the service you’re really looking for during that dream family vacation. If the A/C goes out, or the fridge or electricity goes out, you’re up the creek without a paddle. If you’re wanting to know how to book a vacation rental the safe way, look no further than an established property manager. These companies are licensed, manage many different homes so you have a variety of options and employ full-time guest service and maintenance staff, so you’re paying vacation rental prices for hotel-level service. Every eventuality is covered, so you enjoy peace of mind during your stay.
3. Go With Experience.
If you do decide to go with a property management company, be sure you choose one with significant experience. In high-traffic tourist areas like Orlando, there are tons of “mom and pop” property management companies looking to cash in on the area’s popularity, and while you’ll be paying about the same rates, you won’t be getting the same rate of service and dependability.
4. Read The Entire Rental Agreement.
You’re planning your vacation, and you should be excited! But don’t get so carried away that you book with someone and forget to read the rental agreement in full. Rental contracts explain what you’re on the hook for, any liabilities and your payment schedule. They’ll also outline who’s responsible for general utilities and housekeeping (although with property management companies, most of these things are included in the rental price).
5. Ask Questions.
Whichever way you book, ask questions about the property you’re set to rent. Many companies and homeowners will promote glitzy, glamorous photos trying to pass them off as genuine, only to disappoint renters when they arrive to something far below what they were expecting. Reputable property management companies don’t do this, and can provide a guarantee that the home you book online will be the one you stay in. Don’t be shy, and ask plenty of questions to ensure that what you’re dishing out your hard earned money for is exactly what you’re going to get.
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