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How do I protect myself when booking a vacation rental property

Discussion in 'Vacation Rentals' started by Tricia K., Sep 9, 2016.

  1. Tricia K.

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    We are traveling to Rome in May 2017. I have pretty bad insomnia that makes hotel rooms a miserable experience for both my husband and I, and my 27 year old daughter and her boyfriend are joining us, so I thought maybe a rental property would be a good idea. I've read some horror stories on here so I need to know if I've done enough to protect myself. I found a place in Rome on Trip Advisor that has some excellent reviews and is in a good location that allows us to take in the sites but also retreat from some of the craziness of center city. Trip Advisor has a payment process that if you use it, they guarantee the rental --even against fraudulent listings (I printed their guarantee just in case). I also added the cost of the rental to my trip insurance policy that I purchased to protect our airplane tickets and allow for emergency evacuation in case of a medical issue (and yes, it covers pre-existing conditions). I have googled the address listed and see that it is a legitimate address. I have also spoken directly with the person renting the property through email. Have I covered all the bases or am I missing something? My final payment isn't due until April 2017 but I did pay a deposit using Trip Advisor's payment system. I'd like to learn from some of the stories I've read here and I don't want to be back here next May asking how to get my money back--I would appreciate your help.
     
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  2. sas80

    Staff Member Advocate

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    My girlfriend booked a house on VRBO for their trip last month to Italy. I think as long as you utilize the payment instructions offered BY THE WEBSITE you should be okay. i.e. if the owner responds and gives you different payment instructions than what the site sys, RUN. Usually these different instructions involve wiring the money.

    Also read the reviews. How far back do they go and are they favorable. You want a rental with a long rental review history.

    And use a credit card to book.
     
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  3. johnbaker

    johnbaker Moderator
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    1. Use a credit card
    2. If they want payment some other way, see rule 1

    Have an "emergency fund" you can tap into in case something doesn't work out so you have a place to stay

    At some point, you just have to have faith that you won't be a horror story.
     
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  4. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Ah, Roma! Just give up the idea of sleeping at all, Tricia! Roma makes Manhattan look like a village.

    I think you 'did good' so far, and I commend you for double-checking with us. I would attempt to talk with the owner on the phone, there's something about how a person communicates that's good to know. But if there's no common language, email is pretty good. Yes a thousand times for using a credit card. I wouldn't rent a property without several reviews, just don't go there.

    My last rental in Paris I told the owner that I would pay the balance in cash when I arrived and she was fine with that. I also gave her a personal check for the security deposit upon my arrival, and she accepted that as well. A great deal can be accomplished in person, especially with several hundred euro in your hot little hand for the owner.

    It will be really hot in May, so check out the a/c situation in your unit. I remember an apartment over by St Peter's ... we couldn't leave the windows open at night because it was so noisy ... and I mean NOISY.

    I always research the closest hotel, the phone and address, so in case everything blows up I know where to run for succor. Arrange for airport transport through the owner if you can, and don't unload your luggage until you've seen the property.

    Now having said all this, my sister-in-law (from Brooklyn Center) did everything upside down and backwards for a house in Cape Cod and it was wonderful beyond our wildest dreams. My sister rents all the time through VRBO ... and I've never had an issue. Having 'your own place' is heaven, no question about it.
     
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  5. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Don't book through Trip Advisor- they farm out those rentals to other companies. Make sure you read the terms of the agency that TA farms out your booking to. You usually have to buy THEIR insurance- are you sure there are no terms that say you must buy their insurance?

    Follow the payment requirements and only pay the way you are told by the supplier. Do not let the rental owner ask you to pay any other way or ask to pay direct. And only use a credit card, never wire funds.
     
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  6. Michelle Friedman

    Michelle Friedman Managing Director
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    Make sure that you actually call one of the contact numbers before you make the reservation. Speak to the owner or the caretaker and make sure it is a valid listing.

    I always cross reference the rentals on multiple websites. You can get many different reviews depending on the website on which you review the property. Most rentals are usually listed on many sites : Flipkey, TripAdvisor, VRBO and private rental companies etc.

    As long as you pay with a credit card you have protection. When we booked a house in Greece from TripAdvisor in June the owner contacted us and asked us not to use a credit card... he preferred cash(because of the current financial crisis in Greece). We refused and he accepted the credit card payment (but we almost rented a different villa because of this request). As it turns out, We had a fabulous time in his beautiful home and when we met him in Greece he turned out to be a very lovely person.
    Last month, I spent traveling across the united states on a road trip. We rented a house in California through Tripadvisor and , as @Neil states, they just acted as the "go between" for another agency. So I had to research the other rental company before we booked that house. But , again , we used a credit card and I felt protected and everything turned out fine.
    I think the key is to use a credit card, cross reference AND speak to the owner, caretaker or rental company via phone before booking:)
     
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  7. Patina

    Patina Moderator
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    If you haven't committed yet to the listing, you might want to see if there are any local companies that handle vacation rentals. Paris has a number of them with good reputations. In most cases, they have direct contact with the owners and, not only handle the bookings, but manage the properties for them as well. Personally, I would stay away from a company that only markets rentals like Trip Advisor. They are quick to get you into a situation but very slow to make things right if problems arise!
     
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  8. jsn55

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    This is good insight, Patina. I forget that my first two rentals in Paris were through local Paris companies. Perfectly Paris was so easy to deal with that I learned how it was done and still have a positive attitude about renting.
     
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  9. Tricia K.

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    guess i've got a bit more work to do. Thank you.
     
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  10. Tricia K.

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    I made the mistake of sharing some of your insights with my husband. He apparently does not share your concerns and feels I have done enough due diligence with he steps I've already taken. Whatever. That's between the two of us. One thing that gets confusing for people who read this forum is the wide variety of opinions about individual vacation rental companies. When I started researching this trip, I had other's bad experiences with Home Away and Airbnb in mind and steered away from those businesses. As for the reviews, it astounds me when I read one person saying a place is fabulous, and the next one, who stayed only a month later, says how dirty and disgusting the place was. If Chris Elliott can book a crappy vacation (although admittedly by not following his own rules), his is anyone supposed to do this? No matter who I book with, there is only so much I can do, and at some point, you just have to take a leap of faith (and have a large credit line just in case).
     
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  11. jsn55

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    Ah husbands, aren't they cute? I'd like to know just who would be first in line to scream if the rental doesn't work out! Seriously, thousands of rentals DO workout, we only hear about the problems. I'll bet you have already or will do just about everything right, Tricia.

    I was just talking with a hotel GM at LaGuardia Airport about reviews. Her AA is assigned to respond to them all. It is amazing how the opinions differ ... I just keep reading and find that the full picture forms pretty soon. And if there aren't lots of them, I move on.
     
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  12. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    You have two choices- book a regular hotel where you know what you are getting or through AirBnb.

    There are many apartment type hotel rentals in Europe. Why not check into pricing some of them? Citadines is one to look at but there are many others in France as well where you pay just as you would normal hotel booking.

    Just a thought.
     
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  13. Tricia K.

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    Thanks. And the husband factor? Ugh! We've made it through 33 years through some pretty trying medical issues so I guess we're doing ok.
     
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  14. Tricia K.

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    I'll check it out -- thanks.
     
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  15. jsn55

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    I'd be far more concerned about AirB&B than VRBO. I've always wanted to book a Citadines ... I think @JoeFarrell just used the one in Les Halles in Paris.
     
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  16. jackwills

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    Hello,
    In my opinion, you have to call to the local authorities.....
     
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  17. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Citadunes you can book through normal booking channels right through their own website. You don't have to go through Airbnb or vRBO.
     
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  18. Tricia K.

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    We know a travel agent (who works with corporate accounts) and she checked it out for me. She said it is a great location and has had no problems associated with it. In addition, to get Trip Advisor's guarantee, I had to use their payment system but was allowed PayPal as an option (another level of guarantee) and paid with my AmEx card. At this point, I feel confident I have done everything I can, and have enough of a credit line that I could pay for hotels if the need arises while I wait out a refund. I found their web page where they advertise the apartment locally and googled them to see if there was anything negative and couldn't find anything. At this point, I know I did my very best and I am not going to waste any energy worrying abou it. Thanks for all your advice.
     
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  19. Mike Z

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Good on you Tricia. We are here to provide advice and can often give you so much advice that it is overkill for most every situation. However there are always those places out there where the advice we give becomes necessary. It sounds as if you have gone to great lengths to secure yourself a great place and I am sure things will work out.
     
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  20. Brijesh

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    All the best for the trip. Hope everything will go as expected and kindly share your experience once you back.
     
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