10 Questions to Ask Before Renting a Vacation Home

10 Questions to Ask Before Renting a Vacation Home

black family walking barefoot along the beach

Now more than ever people are renting a vacation home versus booking a hotel room to get more bang for their buck. Short-term vacation rentals can offer several benefits over staying at a hotel. Let’s start with savings shall we? Typically, vacation homes include amenities such as un-limited free Wi-Fi, free phone calls, washer and dryer, and you can save tremendously on food cost and incidentals that you would normally pay at hotels.

[Related: 5 Unconventional Places to Network This Spring]

But regardless if you’re looking to rent a vacation home to get more space at a lower price than a hotel room, or to live like a local in a foreign country, there are several questions you should ask before finalizing a short-term rental agreement.

Home rental marketplaces like Airbnb, that are dedicated to renting apartments and homes to short-term guests, make it super easy to book everything from a studio apartment and cabin to a beach front home or historic castle. After you assess your rental needs such as location, size, pet policy etc., here are some questions you should ask prior to before submitting payment to a rental owner or property manager.

  1. How are the reviews about the vacation rental property? Most online vacation rental companies such as Trip Advisor, Flipkey.com and Homeaway.com, provide reviews of the property and owner. Take your research a step further and contact previous renters or even the owner, to find out more information.
  2. How reputable is the vacation rental company? Nowadays anyone with a digital camera and Internet access can take beautiful pictures of a home and surrounding areas and upload them to a rental site. So remember, what you see is not always what you get. A simple Google Search can reveal telling information about a company. If your schedule permits, try visiting the home or area before submitting payment.
  3. What is the minimum stay required? Some apartments require at least a 3-5-night minimum stay or you may be charged an additional fee for short-term stays.
  4. What type of apartment building: walk-up or elevator access? If considering a vacation rental in cities like New York City or Paris, some apartments are only accessible by stairs, so make sure you ask about floor level access.
  5. Are property amenities such as access to the gym, washer/dryer, fireplace and Internet included in the fee?
  6. Is the property child and/or pet friendly?
  7. Are cleaning fees included? Some vacation rental companies charge one fee for your reservation whereas some may charge a fee per day.
  8. Do you have access (e.g., telephone number and email address) to a 24-hour emergency contact or maintenance person? What if the electricity or plumbing goes out? How far are they located from the property?
  9. How prompt are the owner’s responses to your questions? If they are to slow to respond or impatient at the number of questions you ask, this could be a red flag.
  10. What are the cancellation policies? Typically cancellation policies vary. Check with the owner or property manager to learn more about the terms and conditions.