The vacation rental industry has come a long way. When I was a teenager growing up in Oregon I would spend Saturday morning looking through the local Nickel Ads in search of my next dream car I was going to buy myself with the few hundred bucks I had, who was I kidding. After the auto section was the rental section and that’s where I would find the occasional beach house rental. There were no pictures, just a brief description and a phone number. Now this was several years before the internet so you really had no idea what it looked like, how close in proximity it was to anything remotely tourist-like. You just had to rely on the owner’s description and hope that he or she had some kind of brochure they could send you.
The way we view and book vacation rentals today has been completely transformed. There are literally thousands of vacation rental companies world-wide ranging from just a few individual units to several million properties. With so many companies to choose from where does someone start? The most important characteristic to consider is they should be very transparent. No hidden fee’s, all the pictures are clear, straight forward pricing, a calendar to see available dates, and if you call the office, the staff should obviously be able to answer all your questions.
I put together a list (in no particular order) of things you must consider before renting a vacation rental property.
Pick your destination – Many smaller companies have only local rentals within a certain area
How long is your stay? – Some rentals require 7,30 or even 90 days while others are 1-3 night minimum.
How many guests are allowed to stay in the unit? – If you have a large family or even multiple families, this is important
Can I pay a fee for additional guests? Some units that charge a per-person rate will allow you to pay an additional fee for more guests.
What is the exact address? If they won’t give it to you…..run!
How safe is the area? Ask the property manager or try calling a local restaurant or shop for their opinion.
What else is there to do in the area? Getting a locals input can be very valuable and help you avoid the tourist traps
What floor is it on? Something to consider if you are heavy footed, looking for a great view or want to be away from the noise of the parking lot.
Does it have an elevator? Do you feel like carrying your luggage, kids and a cooler up several floors?
Are the prices negotiable? Prices are usually negotiable during the non-busy times of the year so don’t be afraid to make an offer
Do they accept pets? – Sometimes the rental listing may not list it so ask
How many parking spaces are available? Some rentals have just one spot others have no onsite parking
How many keys are given? This can vary with the number of guests, it’s usually 1-2 sets
What is the cancellation policy? This can vary by owner or property manager. Usually it states it at the bottom of the listing.
How Accessible is it? If you are planning a stay out n the wilderness make sure you find out if it requires a 4-wheel drive, snow chains etc.
What amenities are available? – VR’s are different than hotels. Here at our sister company, Florida Beach Rentals, we supply all of our guests a starter pack which includes 2 rolls of toilet paper, a roll of paper towels, dish soap, sponge, 2 dishwasher pods, 2 trash bags and a box of tissue. Every rental is different so make sure you ask.
What kitchen supplies are provided? Many kitchens supply most of the basics like pots, pans, silverware, dishes, coffee maker, blender
What other amenities are available? Does it have a BBQ grill, bikes, outdoor, snow or beach equipment, working hot tub, cribs, highchairs, cribs, pack n’ play, beach umbrella, chairs etc?
Do I need my own linens? We always supply a fresh set of sheets and a couple of towels per person but every property management company will be different.
Does it have a pull out sofa to sleep on? It’s pretty common now days to maximize the number of available persons they
Do I need a car? Ask about local transportation options. Sometimes you can even find free local transportation.
How far is the nearest grocery store? When you run out of ice and it’s 9:00 at night, how far do you have to go
Is it kid friendly/older community? some communities are known to be kid friendly or occupied by mostly retirees.
Is there a property manager available if I need assistance? Things can happen to even the nicest, most well maintained properties. It helps if there is one available for such incidences.
Is there a booking fee? This might be a deal breaker for me. Some of these companies charge 7-12% booking fee; it’s just wrong.
What does the cleaning fee cover? Most fee’s cover the cleaning of the entire unit with the exception of damage caused by the renter. The cost is included in our rentals.
Can I have guests stay with me? Varies, contact the property manager
Does it have WIFI? Now days most places should unless it is a very rural location. Speed can vary however.
Does the property manager or rental have reviews? They are usually at the bottom of the property listing page. Ask if you don’t see them.
Are there additional pictures available? Most companies will have all of the pics on their website. You can inquire if there isn’t.
How do I pay for it? Most places require a deposit or all up front. Credit cards are usually taken on the website.
How far can I book in advance? Depends on the property manager or owner, even some of the individual unit booking dates can vary.
Is there a local company I can rent things I need? Check with the property manager. Here in Clearwater we have a couple companies we recommend.
Are the views actually taken from the unit? This is a big one for some people. Some websites put pictures of the beach but their isn’t a direct view.
What kind of coffee maker does it have? Slow drip or Keurig. Asking ahead of time helps if you are stopping to buy groceries before you get into your rental.
How do I pick up my keys? Many of the units have key-less entry so the code can be emailed to you. Others may require a stop in the office or they are in a lock box.
Who do I call in an emergency? It should always be available on their website, your check-in packet or a confirmation email.
Is the owner easy to deal with? Some owners can be picky. Ask your property manager if the owner has any issues with previous guests.
How many bedrooms vs number it sleeps? If it has 2 bedrooms and it says it sleeps 12 then definitely ask questions.
What is the bed configuration in the rooms? I’ve seen some rentals in other countries that have one big loft area with 6 sets of bunk beds like military barracks.
Is there a bathtub or just a shower stall? If you have small kids you know how important this can be. Many smaller units do not have a tub.
What’s included in the fine print? Always read it. Don’t take it for granted you will be told everything.
Are there any additional fee’s? Additional fee’s are more common with the bigger rental companies. They should be explained to you or easy to find on the website.
How much is the security deposit? Can vary widely from 10-100% due at booking.
Are utilities included? They should almost always be included unless you have a 90+ day rental.
Is it a gated community? This is a good selling point for the unit so it usually will state it somewhere or be in the pictures.
Am I responsible for cleaning or taking out the trash? Almost always yes. Usually you will be informed when you check in.
Is there daily housekeeping available? Most vacation rentals do not supply them during your stay. it’s a good idea to keep your rental tidy.
Why should I rent from VRguest? VRguest brings you the right property at the right price. We have the lowest prices in the industry. The right vacation rental property can be the difference between and OK trip and the BEST VACATION EVER!
***How can I rent one of your awesome vacation rentals? Great Question check out VRguest’s Vacation rentals here. Don’t forget to our deal’s page also!!