Know your rights with vacation rentals

More people are seeking out vacation rentals recently for longer stays and single-family living while traveling.

A vacation property offers more space, privacy and easier social and physical distancing. In many places, you also get more for your money.

If you’re planning to rent a property for your next vacation or an extended stay, it’s important to keep in mind that your rights as a renter vary depending on what state you’re visiting.

Generally, there are more rules in states that have typically had more visitors renting, such as Florida. If you rent a vacation home in Florida, expect to see your rights enumerated clearly in a required rental agreement.

No matter where you’re going, be sure to sign an agreement prior to making a payment. Request one if you aren’t offered one in the first place, and read it completely.

Any fees or deposits should be clearly defined, and you should understand when you will get your deposit back and under what circumstances. The agreement should make clear the condition of the property and you should be assured that it will be clean, with working appliances.

Also, it is highly advisable to pay by credit card in case any issues arise, because you will be able to dispute the charge through your credit card company.

When selecting where to go, don’t assume that every listing you see on HomeAway, VRBO or Craigslist is legitimate.

Those websites are great marketing tools, but the listings aren’t necessarily verified. There have been scams in which a person posts photos and descriptions like a real listing would have, but the guests arrive to find people living in the home after the scammer took their deposit or the price of their full stay.

It’s worth your time to double-check the ownership of a property through the state’s real property database before you sign or make a payment.

One way to protect yourself is to work through a vacation rental agency. Agencies require owners to meet specific requirements and have standard rental agreements that lay out your rights as a renter.

If you have questions about your rights, you can also contact the state department of consumer affairs where the rental is located.

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