PHILADELPHIA - The unofficial start to summer is about to kick off and if you're thinking about renting a vacation property, listen up.
More and more people are booking vacation rentals online using websites like Airbnb, HomeAway, or VRBO. I know our family has found properties using those sites.
And while we haven't had any trouble, some people do complain that what they get isn't what they expected.
Disappointment over vacation dreams happens, so real estate attorney Scott Reidenbach says do your research!
"Online reviews are a great resource because when people are happy or unhappy about a property, they write about it," he said.
But try to be discerning and don't fall for bogus reviews, they're usually very general. Instead, look for comments that mention specific incidents - whether good or bad.
"And also read the fine print, whether it be a cancellation policy or a termination fee," warns Scott.
That's usually in the fine print on the listing. And see what kind of insurance is offered by the site you're using to book.
If you're not satisfied with it, consider getting outside insurance for your vacation rental. Also, pay with a credit card in case you do have a dispute and try to find a property that doesn't require payment in full before you get to see it or start your vacation.
And if you do find problems when you arrive:
"Before you even open your bag or put down your suitcase, contact the landlord or contact the realtor who got you the property," says Scott.
Ask if they can move you to a comparable property nearby. And if it's really bad....
"Take photographs and take videos because the last thing you want to have happen is for the landlord to hold you accountable and have you pay for the damage of a prior occupant," says Scott.
If you're renting for more than a few weeks, or the entire season, it's not a bad idea to have an attorney review your agreement to make sure your rights are protected.
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