Your experience wit and how I should protect myself
November 2, 2010 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Is rentals a scam? What was your experience and how did you protect yourself?

I'm headed to Vienna over Christmas with my boyfriend an we want to rent an apartment rather than be in a hotel. I found a place I like through and contacted the owner. He wants the deposit (30 %- so 240 euro) payed to a Bank of Austria account. My questions are:
How normal is this?
What can I do to make sure I don't get screwed over?
Is there anyway that homeaway can protect me? OR that I can recover my money if it all goes south?
Is there anything else I should be considering?
Thanks in advance
posted by raccoon409 to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Seems scammy to me. What kind of security is he offering you? What do you get in return for the 240 Euro that ensures that you will have an apartment waiting for you when you get there?
posted by Aizkolari at 7:36 AM on November 2, 2010

He wants the deposit (30 %- so 240 euro) payed to a Bank of Austria account.

What in particular about this makes you think its a scam? That he wants a deposit or that he wants it to be paid into an Austrian Bank account?

If you read homeaway's T&C they pretty much amount to "we're not liable for anything, we're just an introduction site". So no, I dont' think they'll do anything to help you get your money back if it all goes wrong.

I work for a management company that services a number of different property owners that do apartment rentals (not in Vienna though) and guests are expected to have paid in full + security deposit (or rental insurance) before arrival.
posted by missmagenta at 7:45 AM on November 2, 2010

I've rented cabins from HomeAway twice and didn't have any problems.
Individual owners can post on the site. It's similar to VRBO, Ebay. etc. They're basically just hosting the information for people. I'm sure they have their own guidelines for renters/sellers.

Here's a link on "Things to Know when Renting from HomeAway

Here's their help page. I would suggest speaking with someone about your concerns if you don't see the answers in the other link.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:46 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, you'll notice you can purchase Carefree Rental Guarantee if you're really worried about it.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:48 AM on November 2, 2010

I don't think a 30% deposit marks anything as scammy. The owner needs some assurance that you will follow through, otherwise he coulds miss out on the potential rental income if you are a no show. I've rented houses for vacations in the US a few times and never had a problem. However, we have always worked through a real estate firm that specialized in rentals where we were going. FWIW, we also always have paid 50% upfront, and the balance a couple of weeks prior to arrival. 1/2 upfront seems to be fairly standard on this side of the Atlantic.

Is there any sort of rating system with the service? If multiple people are happy with this owner in the past you are probably safe. If not, maybe try to find a local real estate company that does vacation rentals?

Also, can you buy vacation insurance to protect against the apartment not being available?
posted by COD at 7:48 AM on November 2, 2010

My friend has a vacation rental apartment in Paris. He uses, and asks for a 50% deposit at time of reservation. So, this is pretty routine.
posted by kimdog at 7:50 AM on November 2, 2010

I've rented through homeaway a couple of times. One time I paid a deposit, and the other time I payed the full amount in advance. A certain degree of trust is required, but it both cases I was sending a check to the address of the rental, so at least I knew where to look for them if things went wrong.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:02 AM on November 2, 2010

Response by poster: The deposit part doesn't worry me, that seems pretty par for the course. I was wondering if some sort of escrow service was more routine. Or perhaps a credit card payment, which would also give me some more protection. I think the HomeAway Carefree rental option may be the best way to quell my concerns. It's an individual renter with only 1 review. Any more suggestions/experiences are welcome as well.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:10 AM on November 2, 2010

Best answer: It sounds perfectly normal to me and is similar to what I did when renting an apartment in Paris. You should get some sort of documentation in exchange, a signed rental contract or the like. Not so much to protect you from a scam, but just to be sure everyone understands what the payment is for. You're relying on homeaway's relationship with the homeowner to keep you safe.

BTW, credit card payments are uncommon in Austria. Bank transfer makes sense.
posted by Nelson at 8:51 AM on November 2, 2010

This is completely normal. I rented an apartment in Malta from HomeAway and came very close to renting from them again in Barcelona last year. I have also used similar services about a dozen other times.

The deposit process is very routine, especially since if you consider this from *their* perspective: they are working with overseas clients who have no domestic credit history.

Escrows are not common with European rentals, so don't count on using one.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:19 AM on November 2, 2010

Have had great success in renting from HomeAway--deposit is not unusual. Have a great trip
posted by rmhsinc at 10:26 AM on November 2, 2010

Everyone has to start somewhere. I've not rented from HomeAway, but have used other similar services with varying degrees of awesomeness.

Word to the wise. Make sure that you understand everything that is included and everything that will be extra.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:28 AM on November 2, 2010

Similar experience to Nelson in Paris. Had to pay 50% 14 days before arrival, not for Homeaway though. Very typical.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 2:47 PM on November 2, 2010

Best answer: When I lived in Germany, EVERYTHING was paid directly into bank accounts. (Or automatically withdrawn from bank accounts). It was much more usual than paying by cheque or credit card. And because of this, banks allow you to reverse payments for just about any reason. Austria may well be the same.
posted by lollusc at 3:51 PM on November 2, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your great response. I'm in Vienna now waiting for my boyfriend- should London ever open back up and he be able to finally fly in. The apartment is great and you wonderful answers calmed my anxious traveler's mind
posted by raccoon409 at 3:17 AM on December 19, 2010

« Older Why don't I see any text when visiting Flash's...   |   Marathon Bypass Marathon Edition Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.