Spotting A Scam – How To Avoid Trouble When You Book A Short Term Rental

Nick Winikoff| Posted on 2017-10-05 | ~3 min read

Short term rentals are amazing in many ways. They allow you to easily rent a home often times at significant discounts. But, you have to deal with someone when booking a short-term rental and that is where things can get a little dicey.


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There are so many truly amazing homeowners and hosts who are more than willing to welcome you into there home. They provide comfort, care, and maybe even a home-cooked meal. These people are absolutely fantastic, no question. Thankfully, they are far more common than the bad kind. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and you will, if you travel long enough, encounter a bad property owner. I just want to point out that there are property owners who are simply bad hosts and don’t mean any harm. These people might not be friendly, might not have the social skills or insight to be good property owners, and should probably use a rental management company. Luckily, the review system tends to be very effective when trying to route out these kinds of hosts.

In this blog, I’m going to talk about scammers and con-artists who try and trick you into giving over money in various ways. I’m going to walk you through a few common scams that I’ve seen and some tips that you can take to avoid them.

When it comes to scams I feel like it is much better, in the long run, to be proactive rather than reactive. If you can avoid the problem all together why not take that route. Something as simple as looking at a property to see if it’s too good to be true can really go a long way. Put it this way, if you find a home in the middle of an urban centre that is going for significantly less than all the surrounding properties then you’re more than likely going to have a problem. That’s not to say that it’s impossible, just very unlikely.

HomeAway Scams

Pricing:  As I mentioned earlier if there is a home that you find in a popular area at a significant discount you should immediately be skeptical. Do some research you’ll be able to find what a fair cost is for that area. If the price you are looking at is super low you should maybe find another place to stay.

Photos: Everyone knows that having great photos of your property listed is an awesome way to get more bookings. As a potential guest it is important to closely look the photos given and not to be afraid to ask for more. Know that if photos look too good to be true, or the price of the property doesn’t quite fit what you’re seeing in the photo be careful. Things to look out for are photos that look overly manicured or touched up. Hosts will do this in order to draw in traffic to their property and just assume that the inconvenience of changing properties or paying another host will be too much for the guest to want to deal with.

Reviews: The review system, for the most part, is pretty great. It allows guests to get a good sense of what should be expected from the property they are booking. Owners who do not have any reviews should not automatically be disqualified. There are reasons why an owner wouldn’t have any reviews the most common is simply that they are new to the platform. What you want to look for are owners who have many reviews that are very similar or that one guest accounts for a disproportionate amount of the positive reviews.

Payments: This one is pretty simple, for whatever reason an owner will ask you to give them money outside the platform. Owners who are trying to scam you will commonly ask for a separate deposit or money order through a company like Western Union. Be weary of any payment to an owner made outside of the platform you are using. Keeping a trail of your payments through an online portal is the best way to keep yourself secure from any kind of online fraud.

Lastly, using common sense is very important. Just know that the company has your back in case anything happens. Any disputes will be fairly settled and you won’t have to worry about having to over pay if there is a problem.

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