This is good article for advice on picking a vacation rental. This is about more than avoiding scams. This advice will help you pick a vacation rental more suited to your needs.
Renting a vacation home this summer? Before booking online, pick up the phone and call the owner.
It isn’t foolproof, but it’s one way to help make sure a rental isn’t a nightmare or worse — doesn’t exist.
“Unfortunately, people can lie on the phone as they can lie on email,” said Rod Fitts, president of the Association of Vacation Rental Operators and Affiliates, which has a certification process for properties to ensure renters that the places are real and that the owners renting them out aren’t scammers who create fictional properties and post them on listings sites.
If nothing else, “speaking to a human will give you a gut feeling about the property,” said Melanie Fish, spokeswoman for the vacation rental website HomeAway.
The reality is that renting a home instead of a hotel room — while often a more unique and cost-effective route — requires a leap of faith. Rentals don’t have standardized amenities or cleaning regulations (though that may change in the future, as the industry matures), Fitts said. And one person’s “quick walk to the beach” can be a long hike for another. For some, visiting the property in advance is an option, but many have to assess a property from afar.
To determine the best rentals, start with the reviews — and take them in context.
For example, in some situations, reviewers might not be offering up the whole truth, said Heather Bayer, who runs a rental management agency in Ontario, Canada, and operates the website Cottage Blogger. On Airbnb, guests can also be reviewed, making some people hesitant to give frank feedback on the quality of a rental. “If the guest has something negative to say, then the owner could review them negatively,” and that could affect the guest’s ability to book something in the future, Bayer said.
Also, pay attention to how an owner responds to a poor review. “If the guest has said something negative or done less than a five-star review, look at the owner’s response,” Bayer said. If they contest the comment, arguing the place is wonderful, that’s a red flag. “If the owner said, ‘No, you’re right, I didn’t meet expectations,’ I would far prefer to see that,’” she said.