The do’s and don’ts of last-minute holiday renting

At this time of year a surprising number of people who had been planning to stay home for the festive season will suddenly decide to go away after all – and frantically start scouring online and classified advertisements for last-minute holiday rental deals, says Greg Harris, CEO of Chas Everitt Property Rentals.
“But unless you want to risk extreme disappointment, you really do need to slow down, avoid being pressured into a decision and be very careful who you do business with and what you sign up for,” he says.
“Crooks and con-artists thrive on desperation and hasty decisions and use all sorts of bait to tempt you into parting with your money and getting nothing in return. So wherever possible, it is better to deal with an established and reputable company like Chas Everitt Property Rentals, which manages a large portfolio of short-term rental properties and will usually have several options to offer you.”      
Next, Harris says, you really need to get into the specifics. “For example, if you want to rent a waterfront property, you must ask the landlord or agent to be specific about the distance to the beach or riverbank.
“Similarly, if an advertisement says ‘close to shops’, ask exactly how far that is, or you may actually face quite a long hike every time you need a litre of milk.”
Third, he says, you should beware of “hidden” costs, such as fees for additional guests, pets, cleaning and even TV-hire or Internet access. “To prevent nasty surprises, check and double-check and get all the details - plus your move-in and move-out dates, payment schedule and landlord or agent contact details – all in writing, even if it’s only on email. The rule here is no written contract, absolutely no deal.”
Fourth, it is important to be aware that you may not get a refund of any deposits or other payments made upfront if your plans change – especially if your booking falls into high season. “If the landlord has reserved the property for you and you suddenly decide not to take it, it is after all unfair to expect them to lose out on the income they would have made, especially if you don’t give them enough time to let it to someone else.
“And unfortunately this applies even if your reason for cancellation is a family emergency – and even if the landlord or agent is sympathetic and does try to find another tenant at short notice.” 
Then finally, Harris says, you need to beware the “housemates from hell”. It may sound like fun or a budget plus to share the costs of holiday accommodation with a group of friends or another family, “but there’s nothing to test a friendship like a rainy day at the coast with everyone indoors and getting on each other’s nerves. In our experience it is usually better for friends or relatives to rent separate units and meet up on the beach or just “visit” one another for a few hours at a time.”

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