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12 Tips For Renting A Vacation Home
Posted By Ron On March 11, 2011 @ 2:25 AM In Real Estate,Saving Money,Tips & Techniques | Comments Disabled
Renting a vacation home can be one of your family’s greatest times together. I fondly remember heading down to Panama City Beach, Florida when I was a kid with a lot of family and friends  in tow, looking forward to the seafood, the beach, and snorkeling for shells and sand dollars. I never thought twice about what the place cost to rent or how much thought and planning goes into renting a vacation home; I was just there for the fun.
How much do you plan to budget  on the rental home? Are your dates in stone? If you have any flexibility with dates, try to avoid the peak season if possible. Different homes have different peak times and if you can manage to travel  in the “off season,” you’ll save a bundle. Honestly, one of my absolute favorite times to go to the beach (from Gulf Shores, Alabama to Mexico Beach, Florida) is in October. Prices are great and the weather is fantastic.
Are you a beach person or a mountains person? What about the rest of the family? Do you want to go-go-go or relax and snooze? What about restaurants and other attractions in the area? The most important thing you can do is research your potential vacation spots and then talk about it with the family.
The longer you wait, the more stress  you’ll encounter simply because you force yourself to make a decision in a rush. Rushed decisions usually cost more money. And the really good deals and best vacation rentals don’t last long.
After looking at Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO ) for a few years but not using them, I asked around the office if anyone else had used them. Surprisingly, several people HAD, including my boss. He raved about the whole site so I’m planning to use them this year to go to the beach!
Other sources for vacation rental homes include:
Don’t be so happy that you got the vacation rental home you wanted that you fail to read the contract. This document should NOT be ignored since it explains what your responsibilities as a renter. It should outline your payment schedule as well as your liability if extra cleaning is needed or if there are damages to the property. Make sure you know and understand the owner’s policies regarding:
It’s important to get a checklist of what’s included in the vacation rental home. For example, are beach chairs and a grill part of the deal? If they are, that could save you some money. If not, factor that into your budget. Also ask about:
If there’s some kitchen gadget or pillow you simply cannot live (or sleep) without, make sure you bring it from home. Also bear in mind that many units are personally used by their owners at some point during the season. There probably is a locked closet with their personal belongings in it. Don’t try to break into this closet!
Vacation rental home owners will post online pictures of their property that put it in the absolute best possible light. Ask the owner about construction on the property or in the area. Ask about the age of the property, it’s recent upgrades, and how many repeat renters the owner has. You may not get ALL this information, but it will give you a much better chance of avoiding a vacation rental home mistake.
Vacation rental homes will probably require an upfront security deposit. I know I would require one if I owned a vacation rental home! Since you’ll most likely be charged a refundable deposit, make certain you know the process required to get your deposit back. Understand what conditions must be met (e.g. the home must be clean, free from damage, keys returned, and all rental payments made) in order for you to get your deposit back. This will help prevent arguments and stress  after a wonderful vacation.
Some vacation rentals use a cleaning service to tidy up the place after you’ve left. Many of these services don’t perform a “deep” cleaning but just a half-way decent once over with a vacuum, dust cloth, and some disinfectant sprays and wipedowns. Sometimes the bill is paid by the owner (it was included in the rental price) but others may make you pay it directly to the people doing the cleaning. I’ve seen it both ways.
You can never be too careful. To make sure you aren’t blamed for damage that wasn’t your fault, photograph or video tape the vacation rental home’s interior and exterior the day you arrive AND the day you leave. If an argument arises, this evidence could save your skin! It may well prevent escalating arguments and even legal proceedings from going too far.
Always get a contact number for the maintenance staff. If the air conditioning goes out, the toilet starts leaking, or the stove won’t work, you’ll need to know who to contact and how they will handle different types of emergencies. A maintenance person may not consider a malfunctioning toilet a high priority if there are two other bathrooms on the property. Try to get two phone numbers for any maintenance personnel (primary and a backup). You’ll be glad you did!
With many vacation rental homes, you’re actually renting from an individual. A company or corporation may handle the financial details, repairs, and maintenance, but the home is probably owned by an individual. Make sure when you leave, that you leave the home in the same shape it was in when you arrived, if not better.
If possible, contact the resident manager, owner, or other person associated with the property to do a final walk through when you leave. Having that on video will seal most deals when it comes to getting your security deposit refunded!
Photo by ctay75010 
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