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VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

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New York
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VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

We have never used the VRBO website before but are checking out a place in Manhattan Beach. Any suggestions or info would be helpful. How reliable is the website? What questions should we ask,etc. Thanks!

Sun City West
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for Rosarito
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1. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

The web site is not what you should be questioning; it is simply a place for owners to advertise their properties. As an owner who does advertise on VRBO, I can tell you that if serious complaints are received, VRBO does look into them, and I assume VRBO would drop any advertiser who did not deliver what he promises.

There are questions I think any owner should be able to answer:

1. Do you have additional pictures you could email me? (In my opinion, the more pictures you see the better idea of what you'll actually be renting you'll have.)

2. Can you tell us something about the area? (Any owner should know the area well and be happy to help you with restaurants, etc.)

3. Are there any special concerns we should be aware of?

In my opinion, any owner should want you to have a great vacation. If the owner doesn't seem to care whether you do or not, I'd move on to another owner: there are lots of us out there. :-)

New York
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2. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

Thanks, Pstreet1, I appreciate the info. Very helpful!

West Hollywood...
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for Los Angeles
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3. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

As a 20+ year realtor, I can echo the remarks of the prior poster and tell you that you are at risk renting any property from an individual you do not know. I personally, have not used VRBO (preferring instead to use 'agencies" for vacation properties since my feeling is that I would have some recourse if something "went wrong").

Try to get as much info as you can. I can't imagine why a "landlord" would feel uncomfortable giving out his/her phone number to someone who showed interest in the property so that you could call and chat. (It's my opinion that it's harder to be dishonest over the phone than over the internet). On the other hand, as a person who likes his privacy, I'm not sure I'd want to give my phone number out to a stranger. Perhaps, the prior poster can detail the extent to which he communicates with prospective lessees before renting his property.

In the rentals that I've taken (through agencies), I've always used a credit card for the deposit (which was usually not charged -- just taken in case I "flaked out"). This way, if I'm charged improperly, I have a recourse through my credit card company. I would imagine that most property owners on VRBO don't take credit cards so I'd be careful about sending money to someone before seeing the property. (Again, maybe tthe prior poster can explain how much -- if any -- he requests from potnetial tenants to "hold the place" for them.

Bottom line: find out as much as you can, ask us here on TA for help about a neighborhood and if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.

st pete, fla
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4. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

I agree...definitely get into an email or phone conversation with the owners. I rented twice in Hawai'i and had wonderful experiences. Both owners freely conversed with me over email and offered to talk on the phone for more info if needed. Also, I have heard you can ask VRBO if a particular property has had any complaints. good luck!

Huntington Beach
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for Huntington Beach
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5. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

I can tell you first hand that renting from an Agency doesnt always guarantee the best results.

Years ago, we rented a home from a popular agency in Lake Arrowhead. When we arrived, there were two pieces of very old furniture that were slightly broken. We also notice the fireplace had not been cleaned out and the previous owners trash still outside the front doors. No biggie, we adjusted to it and I cleaned the house better than we found it. We got the biggest shock when we were refused a refund of our deposit due to the broken furniture.

What saved us? Well, when we arrived, I just so happen to make a big deal of our entry into the home on video tape and it shows upon opening the door the broken furniture and trash at the door.

What really had happen was the housekeeper did a no-show between renters so there was no confirmation of who did the damage. The Agency based it upon the neighbors opinion of which family was the loudest...our 3 little ones won that easily! But my video tape won our case hands down!

I only share this because I hope this lets others learn from our situation. The stress of being wrongly accused was unbelievable and the attitude of the agency mind boggling. In fact, they wanted to be compensated for the cost of brand new furniture not the cost of value for 30+ year old furniture.

I have never rented from VRBO but see that the homes listed in my area by the beach are rather nice and a great deal. I will definitely try it.

West Hollywood...
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for Los Angeles
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6. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

In any rental agreement, there will be a paragraph saying that the property is in good condition. I wouldn't sign such a statement until I was assured that it was true. I am assuming that VRBO orwners meet the tenants personally, walk them through the property and sign the paperwork -- all at the same time. In this case, there should be little chance of a tenant being blamed for the actions of a prior tenant.

In general, I would advise any tenant to immediately make the landlord aware of any defect they find in a property and to call the landlord if there is a mechanism or machine whose operation confounds you. It's better to call and get instructions than to try to figure it out and risk breaking it.

Good luck to all!

Sun City West
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for Rosarito
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7. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

I always speak with prospective renters, for my satisfaction and theirs, and I agree that it's much more difficult to be dishonest over the phone.

Paying for the rental: It's pretty common to have to pay 1/2 or all of the rent to secure the rental. Remember, these people do not have the resources of Hilton to fill a cancellation. I refund everything if the cancellation is more than 30 days from the occupancy date or if it is later and I am successful renting those dates, I send the original renter's money back. I realize that takes trust on the renter's part. In my case, I'm trusting that a renter will not do considerable damage. It is certainly possible in a weekend to do thousands of dollars of damage, and the damage deposit wouldn't go far in repairs. So far, I've had no problems, and no renters have had problems with me---but there is trust involved on both sides. In 8 years, I've had two prospective renters say they just couldn't give me the money before hand, and I assume they found a hotel that worked for them.

I definitely wouldn't do anything you aren't comfortable with. If it's going to worry you, it will interfere with your trip, and no one needs that on a vacation.

The rental contract should spell everything out very clearly so there are no last minute questions or misunderstandings.

Sun City West
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for Rosarito
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134 reviews
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8. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

Opps--just read the post about walking tenents through the property--probably in most cases not. VRBO owners are generally listing a second home or vacation condo. By definition, that means they aren't in the location the property is in; they are in their primary homes which may be half way across the country from the vacation home.

It is much more common for everything to be done by phone and email.

Again, a situation that requires trust. For example, I've come not to be surprised when renters lie. I clearly state that my condo sleeps 4 and the maximum occupancy is 4, only to find that more people have been stuffed into my condo. Last Thanksgiving I was told a couple would be coming, and "possibly another couple," only to find that my new cushions for the newly upholstered couch and custom made new white chairs were used on the floor for more people, that sheets were removed from the beds and the "primary occupants" slept on the mattress cover so the "cushion people" would have some cover. Again, trust. As an owner, I have to take a risk; for the renter, trust is also a factor.

Generally, I'm pleased with my renters and they help make it easy for me to afford to have a second home--and as I said, I've had no complaints, but renting from an owner is definitely not for everyone.

Manhattan Beach...
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9. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

I am an owner who lists on VRBO as well as others. I will always take the time to answer questions - this also gives a better idea of who will be staying at my property. I have been extremely pleased with the people who have stayed - very considerate and would just prefer to stay in a home rather than a hotel.

Most owners are very concerned about making sure you have a good stay and rely on your referrals. It would not be worth making a fee on one stay to lose future business.

Expect to pay 50% - 100% to confirm your stay - this is standard. And you now need to pay 10% Occupancy tax in Manhattan Beach for stays less than 31 days.

Good luck!

largo,fl
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53 posts
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10. Re: VRBO (vacation rental by owner)?

Hey Traveler . . .

My husband and I have used VRBO 4 times (Bahamas twice; Florida 1; New Mexico 1) with another trip planned for California. All of our trips have exceeded our expectations. The properties have been very clean, well maintained, and all the owners had compiled guides of local sites and attractions, down to extensive collections of local menus. You've gotten good advice, get all the photos you can, some owners have virtual tours available. Do your research as far as previous renters leaving feedback, some offer email addresses where they will share more detailed/honest information with you.

Enjoy your vacation!

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