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Deposit payment by check?

Orlando, fl
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22 posts
8 reviews
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Deposit payment by check?

We finally found a rental but only payment method is to mail owner a check. I've been communicating with the owner through the Homeaway site & the owner has been very nice but is it normal to accept only checks as the payment. It's a 50% deposit now & the balance due 30 days before. Lots of good reviews about the house. She did send an information page but no rental agreement. Her address is in the US. My gut feeling is its legit but I'd feel better if cc or paypal was accepted.

savannah sound
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2,460 posts
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1. Re: Deposit payment by check?

Yes, it's reasonable and customary to request a check...even a cashiers check.

What are YOU worried about? After all, her part of the transaction is to put up the use of her house worth tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for your paltry few hundred dollars. You say she is "very nice" and has "Lots of good reviews". Do YOU have any reviews/references as to your ability to take good care of her property?

It seems as though the owner has assumed the greater risk.

Southport, North...
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844 posts
10 reviews
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2. Re: Deposit payment by check?

At this point the owner is not assuming any risk and you owe it to yourself to make sure that the ad is not fraudulent. I own and operate a vacation rental company and have had numerous instances of attempted fraud in both directions. Sometimes fraudsters will create a fictitious ad in hopes of luring unsuspecting renters to send deposits usually via check or cash. I've seen more instances of fraudulent renters who try to pay by credit card and then offer to pay extra in exchange for sending them some of the cash back after the transaction goes through. I've even had one ugly instance of a travel agent overselling my personal vacation home, promising the world, and renting it for more than double what I charge. Needless to say, the renter was not happy and ended up getting ripped off by the travel agent while I lost my rental income during a prime holiday week.

Paying by check is still a ridiculously normal way of handling these types of payments, but I would ask for a rental agreement along with several references, people you can talk to, just to make sure the VRBO ad is authentic.

Owners generally cover their own risk by requesting security deposits, another arcane practice. In all my years renting places I think I've cumulatively had a total of 5 damage claims most of which I paid since I couldn't reliably ascertain whether the owner or renter was at fault.

Windsor, Canada
Destination Expert
for Eleuthera
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1,951 posts
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3. Re: Deposit payment by check?

It is unusual for rentals on Eleuthera to not accept forms of payment other than checks, such as credit cards, Paypal, direct deposit, or money transfer services offered by companies like Homeaway. Checks do not offer good security for either side of the transaction, and only accepting checks makes it difficult to deal effectively and quickly with renters from other parts of the world. The 50% deposit, balance due 30 days before rental, and fairly casual rental agreement are common here.

If you don't feel secure you might speak with the owner on the phone, or ask specific questions about the rental on this or other forums. If there is an extended history of good reviews then chances are everything is fine. Rental fraud seems very rare on Eleuthera.

Eleuthera
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2,635 posts
18 reviews
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4. Re: Deposit payment by check?

I agree with Bret and DaHermit. A check is common practice and it's actually safer than giving your credit card info to a total stranger. Like you, I prefer PayPal, but not everybody has signed up to that service.

The reviews on HomeAway, while not a total guarantee, are encouraging, as is the U.S. address. It's likely you're dealing with a legit owner, as most scam artists these days will try to draw you into a complex payback transaction involving credit cards or wire transfers, as Bret described. I've run into a couple of those myself and just walked away.

Not everybody uses a formal rental agreement. We've been renting out a cottage for nearly 8 years now and have never used a contract or required a damage deposit, and never had a problem.

Eleuthera
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359 posts
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5. Re: Deposit payment by check?

I fully agree with DaHermit And Dave.. with most rental homes/cottages not having damage fees..if you break or steal something the owner will have to replace it out of their pocket.. if you're not "comfortable" sending $$ that way then I would suggest going elsewhere.

Btw..what rental home is it anyways?! I'm sure most of us know who they are and can vouch for them.

Windsor, Canada
Destination Expert
for Eleuthera
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1,951 posts
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6. Re: Deposit payment by check?

Dave, I agree that accepting checks is common practice, but I think that only accepting checks is extremely uncommon. Personal checks, like the metric system, is largely just an American practice these days, so why would a rental not offer another payment option?

Eleuthera
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2,635 posts
18 reviews
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7. Re: Deposit payment by check?

Roger that, Dave ... but there could be a number of reasons. A lot of older folks haven't hooked into the PayPal thing, or haven't figured out that even private individuals can arrange to accept credit cards. Also, there are a great many people who simply don't want to pay the points involved with credit cards or PayPal, even tho they add a level of security to the transaction. Believe me, there are a *lot* of those "thrifty" types out there. Look at how many businesses on the island are still cash-only.

Funny thing: I've been visiting back in the U.S. for a couple of weeks, I have only used cash here twice -- once to pay a cabbie from the airport, and once to pay for a haircut. On the island, managing a wad of cash is a daily, ongoing affair.

Southport, North...
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844 posts
10 reviews
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8. Re: Deposit payment by check?

When I first built my rental company we were first to market to offer online bookings for vacation homes with instant credit card transactions. The entire industry, not just Eleuthera, ran and still runs by exchanging checks in the mail. Something like $3B annually is exchanged between owners and renters in this manner. We had to actually modify our software the first year because renters wanted to inquire. They didn't want to book. There is also a huge problem associated with calendar maintenance making double bookings something that people have to worry about.

We set about to change that, but the transition was and still is very slow. Here are some reasons.

Individual owners have a hard time setting up to accept credit cards and they often don't want to pay regular fees charged by the processing companies on top of expensive transaction fees. The rental companies have had their own issues doing this, too, as the payment processing companies made it extremely difficult to qualify to take credit cards. They required huge minimum monthly revenue commitments and often rejected applications just because of the high probability of chargebacks. The rental industry is notorious for credit card disputes and the banks avoid it. It's becoming more widely adopted now, but there is still reluctance to change.

The other thing that owners like to avoid is declaring their income. As soon as they start processing credit cards they receive 1099's, which they then have to declare on their taxes. I know many, many owners who are not happy when I send them an income statement at the end of the year. Credit card transactions leave records.

Chicago, Illinois
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2,501 posts
42 reviews
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9. Re: Deposit payment by check?

Say DA which was better the 'Cab Ride' or the 'Haircut'?

Eleuthera
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2,635 posts
18 reviews
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10. Re: Deposit payment by check?

The haircut was cheaper ... tho I get it cut even cheaper and better on the island.