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Important Tips When Renting a Vacation Home
Posted by Mt Hood Vacation Rentals | Sunday, July 19, 2009


Recently, in the news in Oregon, a vacation rental scam was uncovered at the Oregon Coast. Apparantly a woman who had been cleaning houses, started taking photos of the homes, then offering them up as vacation rentals on Craig's List and on websites she actually created for this purpose. She even made reservations for dozens of guests and collected money from them. Unfortunately, she did not have contracts with the property owners to represent their homes, and most of these homes were not even available for rent. Just as the Lincoln County Sheriff's office caught wind of her fraud, she skipped town; they are still looking for her. And dozens of people have been duped out of their cash and they do not have a place to go on vacation this summer.

 
Vacation Rental Homes are a great lodging choice for families and friends when going on vacation. These homes offer great amenities including complete kitchens, fireplaces, entertainment centers with TV, DVD players, stereos, phones with Internet connections, washer and dryers and private hot tubs & swimming pools. Many offer other amenities such as pool tables, theatre rooms, free bikes or canoes to use or the use of a fitness center. And they are located in resort towns where people like to go on vacation; near beaches, lakes, rivers, mountains, deserts, golf courses and so on. A vacation rental provides a lot more space to the guests than a hotel room. The vacation rental home is often the destination for vacationers. And the best thing is that a vacation rental often costs less per person to stay in than a hotel. There are plenty of good reasons to consider a vacation rental home when traveling.
 
 
However, you can run into some problems if you do not do your homework. Here is a list of things to look for when choosing a vacation rental for lodging when traveling away from home.
 
1. Do business with a professional management company. A management company has streamlined systems because they are performing these services for several homes, not just one. And because they do this every day, all day, they know what they are doing. Look for a professional website that lists all of the homes offered, features and amenities of the homes, rates, dates of availability and rental policies. There should be clear contact info which includes an office address, mailing address, phone numbers (including a toll free number) and email contact. Even if you choose to book online, make a phone call to the office to make sure there really are people working there. Remember, the management company provides jobs and is the livelihood for the owner, so they care about their reputation and that they stay in business.

2. Make sure you get a rental contract from the vacation rental manager. The rental agreement should clearly outline the name of the home you are renting, the arrival and departure dates of your stay, a break-down of your total charges along with payment due dates and rental and cancellation policies. You should receive this rental contract by email within 24 hours or by regular mail within a few days.

3. Call the local Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitor's Bureau (CVB) to verify that the vacation rental management company is a member in good standing. When shopping online, does this company's name or listing keep popping up? A professional property manager will be easy to find in several locations on the Internet.

4. Look for online reviews of the vacation home you are considering renting. If the reviews are not on the Vacation Rental website, you can find them at FlipKey.com and at TripAdvisor.com. Previous guests will be honest about their experience while renting the home.

5. Make sure there are lots of photos and details about the home on the website. If there is a room or location setting that you do not see a photo of, call and ask for more details. Ask to be emailed photos if they are super important to you. Also, look for Virtual Tours or Videos of the home on the website. They will give you a sense of what it feels like to walk through the home and grounds of the vacation rental.

6. Pay with a credit card, not cash or check. Your credit card company may be able to refund your money if there is a problem. (Services like PayPal do not offer fraud protection as they are 3rd party merchants.) You should receive some sort of documentation of payments received, either an actual receipt, an email confirmation or an actual rental agreement.
 
 
7. Follow your intuition. This transaction like many other business dealings that you engage in on a daily basis should feel friendly, yet business-like. Were you treated with respect? Did the person you emailed or phoned courteously answer all of your questions and help you find the best vacation home for your visit? When you contacted the vacation rental manager by email, through an online booking or by phone, did they get back with you within 24 hours? Overall, do you feel good about the interaction?

By themselves, any one of these tips might not keep you from being scammed. Obviously, the woman who ripped off Oregon Coast visitors was fairly sophisticated because she actually posted ads on Craig's List and even built her own websites. However, if you follow all of the steps above, you will have a pretty good idea if you are going to get what you paid for.

Have a great summer and enjoy your vacation rental home wherever you end up this year. Doing your homework before you leave home will help insure that you have a great time while on vacation.

 



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