Now that the mad rush around the holidays are over, it’s time to start planning your vacation calendar. Starting the year off with a blank slate provides an opportunity to brush up on some travel tips that will keep you safe and happy while renting a vacation home. After all, you’ve worked hard for your holidays, and relaxing at your ideal vacation home is the only thing that should be on your agenda when you finally get there.

1. Research the Owner.

Get a name and phone number for the property owner and look them up on the Internet. You should be able to find them on Facebook, LinkedIn or some other social media site. You can also google their name to see all of their online profile, and do a reverse look up on their phone number to see if they match.

2. Talk to the Owner.

It’s important that you get a sense of who you’re renting from so pick up the phone (or better, Skype, FaceTime or iChat) and have a conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the property, their motivations for renting, the financial requirements, ask for references, and anything else you need to know before you confirm your rental.

3. Research the property.

You can check the online footprint of a property by searching for it on the Internet. You should look for properties that have been in the rental business for at least a year, read reviews if there are any, and compare the photos on the listing to what you find on google maps because they should match.

4. Get a rental agreement.

Protect yourself by getting a Rental Agreement. A rental agreement states the terms of your agreement in black and white, provides you with important information about the property you are renting, sets expectations on both parts and gives you some recourse if things don’t go as planned. It also adds an element of credibility to the property owner and makes it feel like a real business.

5. Pay by credit card.

Protect yourself by paying by credit card. Sending cash through the mail is definitely not the way to go for obvious reasons but sending a cheque, or paying by paypal or electronic transfer leaves you no legal way to recover your money if things don’t go according to plan. The only guarantee you have to challenge the charge is by using your credit card.


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