Holiday Property Rentals

The market for privately owned holiday rentals such as cottages, apartments and villas has grown, as more people own holiday properties and the web makes letting these easier. A number of websites have sprung up to service the demand, but recent fraud cases highlight the need for caution. This article looks at finding property rentals and how to avoid the pitfalls.

There are two main ways that holiday properties are let on the web. These are:

Agency lettings There are both national and local agencies covering most areas of Europe. The agencies will inspect the properties they rent and provide additional services to both renters and property owners.
Independent lettings Many web sites have developed that allow property owners to list their own properties. Alternatively property owners will build their own web site to advertise the property.

We now look at these two sources of property rentals.

Agency Lettings

Agencies provide an element of security, though many do also charge a noticeable premium for such reassurance. Properties are checked and inspected on a regular basis. The national agencies tend to have representatives who travel around and view properties while the local agencies have offices located close to the rental property.

Local Agencies

The local agencies often provide additional services such as distribution of keys, parking permits, cleaning, and maintenance and are on hand to resolve issues. They will normally have a good selection of similar properties in the area you’re looking. As the web makes prices more transparent, agency local prices are reasonably competitive, as they need to ensure they maximise the number of properties that they rent.

There are too many local agencies to list them all here on this website. The best place to find them is via a search engine like Google where it is likely they pay a fee to be listed. Examples of local agencies that I’ve happily used in the past having found them via Google are:

CoastandCountry Covers South Devon.
Estuary Cottages Southern Cornwall around the Fowey area.
Helpfullholidays Cover the South West.

I’ve found the prices for all the above very competitive and much in line with independent private advertisements I’ve spotted elsewhere.

National Agencies

Personally I tend to find the national agencies that cover one or more countries expensive. They do list the higher end of the market, but if that fits your budget then it’s well worth taking a look.

UK:

Cottages4you Cottages are inspected and approved before being let. Brochure available. These extra services obviously have to be paid for by the owner, and are likely to be reflected in the letting price.
English Country Cottages Cottages are inspected and approved before being let. Brochure available.
Country Holidays Cottages are inspected and approved before being let. Brochure available.

Europe:

Villas of Distinction Cover Luxury villas in France and Italy
Rent Villas Offers villas as well as extras like flights if required.

Independent Lettings

Many web sites have developed that allow property owners to list their own properties. These web sites typically charge a small annual fee for listings, but do not provide any checks on the property themselves. Alternatively property owners build their own web sites to advertise the property.

Words of Warning

Let me start with a few words of warning. With an agency letting you would normally pursue the agency should problems arise with the property you’ve rented. With private lettings your recourse is with the property owner. You should therefore look for feedback from other guests.

The importance of checking is highlighted by recent news reports regarding fake Spanish villas being advertised on the website Morairaway.com. The owners of Morairway.com also advertised their fake villas on both Holiday-Rentals.com and Holidaylettings.co.uk. Over 145 Britons were affected by the scam. Reportedly another 72 Britons have been impacted by a similar scam in Cyprus.

These are of course organized frauds which have made the news, but smaller scale ones also occur, and cause equal amounts of upset for those affected.


Tips to avoid scams:

Look for guarantees. In the case of those initially enticed to morairway.com through the website Holiday-rentals, it offers a rental guarantee scheme for up to £3,300.
Consider how you pay. Most Morairaway.com customers paid direct by bank transfer which has no protection cover.
Look for established feedback. While it should always be remembered that feedback could be faked, if a large number of separate customers have put a variety of reviews, it can add to your confidence.

You need to remember with holiday rentals that owners provide the description themselves. So descriptions like a short walk to the beach or uphill should be checked out where possible. Again lots of independent reviews will help here, but even these can be faked by the determined.

Three of the larger UK based sites for renting holiday homes abroad and in the UK are:

Holiday Rentals Represents more than 180,000 properties.
Owners Direct Owned by the same group as holiday rentals, it has 31,000 properties listed.
Holiday Lettings Have over 30,000 properties in110 countries.

Both Holiday Rentals and Owners Direct offer a £3300 guarantee should a property listed be determined not to be legitimate. These guarantees require registration, so do check to make sure you are properly registered for the guarantee. Following recent fraud cases this is well worth the effort.

TheTravelator.co.uk

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