5 Red Flags To Look For On Airbnb And Other Vacation Rental Sites To travel

With the proliferation of vacation rental sites like Airbnb, HomeAway, and TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, you’ve probably tried, or at least toyed with, the idea of ​​staying with someone else. After all, with competitive prices and more space and amenities than you would expect in a standard hotel, it’s easy to see why the major players in the vacation rental industry are attracting those looking for a vacation rental. affordable and off the beaten track accommodation. In fact, Airbnb now offers more accommodation options than heavyweights like Marriott, InterContinental, and Hilton.

Yet for all the perks that vacation rental websites can offer, there is also a slew of caveats and nightmarish stories that have left potential customers wondering if entering the vacation rental market is. a wise choice. “We’ve all heard horror stories,” says Kris Getzie, founder of Volo Vantage, a hotel consulting firm. She suggests finding a vacation owner who “does not view the homes in their fleet as a commodity” but rather “actively engages[s] invited to live experiences beyond what they could have imagined for themselves. With that in mind, US News has sought the advice of top experts on spotting common scams and smart steps guests and hosts can take to maximize safety and comfort.

Red Flag # 1: Sketchy Payment Sites

“First of all, customers should always book through a secure service,” says Jeff Mosler, director of services at HomeAway. If a host suggests communicating outside of the official vacation rental platform, that could also be a bad sign, he says, especially if they offer a service or product that is not available through the provider. vacation rental. It’s also important to trust your instincts and make sure you’re using a secure method of payment, he says, pointing to the HomeAway Payments system, which lets you pay with major credit cards and provides automatic coverage. up to $ 10,000.

And according to Laurel Greatrix, spokesperson for TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, another major witness is being asked to pay through wire transfer or instant banking. Instructions for paying a wire transfer to a vacation rental site’s bank account, like TripAdvisor, FlipKey, or Holiday Lettings, could be a ploy, she says. “We will never ask you to do this,” she explains. “If you pay through us, payment is made through our online systems, never by bank or bank transfer. Greatrix recommends booking through the TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals payment platform to be automatically insured with Peace of Mind coverage, a protection that ensures payment is not sent to the owner until one day after check-in. traveler for his stay. “Paying online and protecting your payment is the safest and most secure way to pay,” she adds.

Airbnb advises travelers to connect with hosts through their website to avoid phishing scams and protect you from fraud and other risks. By paying through the platform, you can help secure your personal information and you can be assured that your reservation will be covered by the site’s cancellation policies. In addition, the online interaction allows hosts to be covered by the site’s Host Protection Insurance program.

Red flag n ° 2: limited or no notices

“If the ad sounds too good to be true and there is no review, I recommend doing a cross-search on various sites to be sure someone hasn’t copied the ad like a scam, ”says Getzie. She also recommends calling the potential host as collateral against a flawed listing or unreliable property manager.

Mosler suggests calling the owner on the listing site as well as doing a quick Google or social media search of the potential host to ensure a trustworthy experience before making the payment. He says reading traveler reviews can also be helpful. “With the Wild West nature of the Internet, scammers sometimes go to a third-party site like Craigslist,” he warns. For owners Concerned about fraudulent activity, he recommends fighting scams with sites like TinEye.com, a search engine that allows you to type in a property image and then directs you to where the image can be found on the Web.

Airbnb also recommends that travelers protect themselves by asking for referrals, reading traveler reviews submitted by Airbnb travelers, and looking to see if host profile pages display a verified ID badge. These credentials are issued by Airbnb after a user or host logs into personal social networks, confirms personal information, or provides official identification.

Red Flag # 3: Shaded Rental Agreement

When it comes to identifying loopholes in vacation rental contracts, “there can be a lot and they can be varied,” Getzie explains. A smart way to make sure you’re covered if you’re a homeowner is to contact a licensed attorney in your vacation rental jurisdiction, she says. And when it comes to guests, she says the key is getting a short-term rental agreement that comes in the form of a booking confirmation or lease if you’re communicating with a landlord directly. She also suggests carefully reviewing the contract. “If you are booking through a vacation rental site, see the rental agreement downloaded by the owner and the site’s dictated cancellation policy, as both will help you [you] understand the potential problems, ”she warns. She also suggests vacation owners take out insurance either directly from the vacation rental website or on their own, pointing out an emergency like frozen water pipes as a potential issue that you’ll want to have your policy covered. .

Greatrix also says that while booking contracts may vary, if key elements are missing, such as arrival and departure times and cancellation policies, it indicates suspicious activity. And according to the Mosler, in a good contract, the terms of payment, including the security deposit and cancellation policies, as well as the types of amenities, are usually clearly defined.

Red Flag # 4: Suspicious Rules or Restrictions

It’s also important to keep in mind that “not all cities allow overnight rentals, and others require business licenses to operate,” Getzie explains. “And any [municipality] has the power to shut down an illegally run business, whether a guest is staying there or not (potentially leaving you homeless), ”she adds. To make sure your potential vacation rental is in fact legal, Getzie says it’s a good idea to do a Google search for short-term and vacation rentals as well as temporary rental licenses available in the desired destination. “And by all means, ask the owner / operator if they have a current business license if they need it,” she adds.

“Rules and regulations can vary widely from city to city, state to state, and country to country,” says Greatrix. She suggests doing your homework and understanding the various requirements in the United States by visiting the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center website, which has regulations for short-term destinations in various locations.

On the Airbnb site, you can access a “Rules for your city” section, but not all cities are listed. Conducting your own research is especially essential if you are planning to travel to an unfamiliar destination or visit somewhere abroad. This allows you to understand the individual regulations by city, town, country, and state, as there are different tax regulations, zoning restrictions, safety and health standards, and licenses required.

Red Flag # 5: Request for Bank Transfer, Expedited Payment or Discount

If a vacation rental owner or site requests a cable or international transfer, that’s a major red flag, Mosler says. A request for a discount or expedited payment could also be a telltale sign of a scam, he adds.

Another suspicious behavior to report is asking for the full amount to be paid too early, says Greatrix. “You should not be asked to pay the security deposit (usually up to 25% of the total booking amount) and pay the full rental cost up to about eight weeks before your vacation,” he explains. -she. And if there’s a change in the email address of the person you contacted during the booking process, that’s another clue of a possible scam, she adds.

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