Vacation Rentals: 5 Things To Research Before Booking

Vacation Rentals: 5 Things To Research Before Booking

Chloe Seaman
June 23, 2017

A bad vacation rental can ruin your vacation and possibly cost you a lot of money.

Before you book a vacation rental this summer, follow these tips to ensure that everything goes according to plan.

1. Make Sure The Rental Isn’t A Scam!

Scammers are notorious for posing as homeowners and posting fake listings to rental sites.

Take for example what happened to college grad Ashley Monnecka; who found herself the victim of a scam when she tried to rent a cozy one-bedroom apartment in Jersey City on

She reached out to the owner who said they should complete the transaction through Airbnb. Thinking it was safe and that the contract was legitimate, Ashley filled out the paperwork and then wired two months’ rent to a European account, outside the Airbnb platform.

Shortly after the account, email, and phone were all closed with no apartment for Ashley.

It’s imperative that you NEVER wire funds. Period. Anyone who asks you to, is a scammer. NEVER participate in any transactions that would take place outside of the booking platform.

2. Call The Owner Or Property Manager

This is a cardinal rule of booking a vacation rental.

You going to want to communicate with a live person before booking so that you book with confidence. This will also give you the opportunity to ask questions and get an overall feeling of the reliability of this person. Use your intuition.

Having the contact information of the owner or property manager will also be a lifesaver should any emergencies arise; something breaks in the house, you get locked out, etc.

3. Ask A Lot Of Questions

It’s best to gather as much information as you can prior to booking a vacation rental, or possibly find yourself in a troubling situation.

Some questions you should ask the owner or property manager might include:

  • Does “cozy” mean small?

  • What are the house rules?

  • Is there parking, and if so, how much?

  • Is it noisy?

  • Is there anything on the property that’s off-limits?

  • Is there a cleaning fee, and if so, what does it cover?

  • Is there Wi-Fi? A coffee-maker?

  • Are pets allowed?

  • Are there any additional charges outside of what the listing says?

3. Be Wary Of Photos That Don’t Reveal “The Whole Picture”

You’re most-likely booking a vacation rental by the images you see posted to the booking platform. But who’s to say those photos depict what the home is really like? Remember that scammers post phony photos of nonexistent rentals. In addition, some listing’s images may be outdated.

Todd Brabender of Kansas and his wife learned this the hard way when they booked an Airbnb and then discovered the truth about the bathroom. “It had black mold on the tub, weird lighting, and the floor of the tub felt like it was going to cave in. Looking back, we realize there were no pictures of the bathroom in the listing. Now we know why,” said Brabender.

4. Pay With A Credit Card Whenever Possible

Paying with a credit cards helps to ensure you protection if you do find yourself a victim of Internet fraud.

5. Research The Neighborhood

Before booking a rental that you think is a great deal, do some research on the neighborhood. It could be cheap because it’s in a bad area.

You might want to do a reverse address lookup to learn about the surrounding neighbors, and if there are possibly any nearby sex offenders.

Don’t book a vacation rental without going through this checklist first!

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.