You’re on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. The destination is exotic, the activities are exciting, and the value is unbeatable. What’s not to love about your holiday rental? Well…there’s that little thing called staying in someone else’s home for an entire week. Unless you’re renting from friends or family members, staying in another person’s house comes with its fair share of gotchas. Read on to learn about some common pitfalls to avoid when renting a vacation home.
Don’t fall for the freebies
The line between free and discounted may seem clear, but it’s often blurred when it comes to vacation rentals. Make sure you understand exactly what is being offered at no extra charge, and what extras are available for a fee. Do you get daily housekeeping service? Is there a cleaning fee for stays longer than a week? Is there a resort fee? Is parking included? Find out which amenities come standard, and which are extras you don’t want to be surprised by when you check out.
Check the details of your rental agreement
This is one of the most important steps when renting a vacation home. It can also be one of the most overlooked. Always make sure you read the rental agreement and familiarize yourself with any policies or rules your host has in place. This includes information like the noise level (does quiet hours apply or are they are not enforced?), smoking policy, pets allowed or not allowed, and anything else that might affect your stay. You should also read the cancellation policy, especially if you are visiting during a high-demand time or in an off-season. The most important thing to do is make sure that you understand your obligations as a guest and the host’s obligations as the owner. Make sure to read any associated with the rental property and anything in the owner’s house rules.
Be wary of any listings with no contact information
If there is no contact information, you should proceed with caution. Some listings have no contact information at all, and even fewer have an email address where you can reach a host. These are red flags! Always make sure you have a way to contact a host, especially if you are traveling internationally. If you can’t find an email address, message the host through the site’s messaging system. If you can’t find a host’s information at all, you should proceed with extreme caution. It’s a good idea to reach out to the site’s support team and ask them how they vet hosts. Legitimate sites will have a team to verify that the host is real and they will have a way to contact that host.
Check out the neighborhood before you arrive
This is something you should do before booking a home at all, but it can’t hurt to do a quick scan of the neighborhood as you’re planning your trip. You can do this easily by checking out the surrounding area on Google Street View. You can also check out the neighborhood on Instagram with an app like Sicky. You can even use a tool like Five Block to see what others are saying about the neighborhood. These tools will help you get a better idea of what the neighborhood is like and give you an idea of things to avoid when you arrive. If it seems sketchy, you may want to reconsider your rental.
Don’t assume your home has WiFi or AC
You can’t expect every home to have these things and you shouldn’t accept your rental without these comforts, but you can’t be surprised if they’re not available. If these are must-haves for your trip, you should take the time to do some research and find a home that has these amenities. Be sure to include these things in your search criteria, or make sure you note them to the host. If you are visiting in the summer, and AC is a must, make sure you ask your host if they have AC or if they can recommend a place nearby that does. You may not want to be that person who visits in the summer and kills their host’s electricity bill.
The home should be clean — and it’s up to you to keep it that way
Make sure you pack a few cleaning items, such as bleach wipes or a spray bottle filled with vinegar and water. Bring a broom and a dustpan, and if the home has a mop, bring that, too. You can never be too clean, and your host will appreciate it. Keeping your home clean is not just polite, it’s necessary. Guests who clean up after themselves are more likely to receive positive reviews, and hosts are more likely to choose them again in the future. When you arrive, take a walk around the neighborhood, meet your neighbors, and introduce yourself. You can ask them if they’ve ever had trouble with any other guests in the past or if they’ve ever had issues with any neighbors.
Renting a vacation home can be a great way to save money on accommodations, meet other travelers, and have a more authentic vacation experience. But it’s important to research the options, understand the processes, and make sure you know what to watch out for. If you do, you’re more likely to have an amazing vacation experience. If you’re still not sure which home rental company is best for you, check out our rental company comparison chart for the best vacation home rental sites of 2019.