What To Consider When Booking Rental Properties?
Despite the pandemic, the short-term rental market continues to grow at an astronomical pace.
With so many new trends and a greater demand for short-term rental properties and holiday homes as opposed to hotels, the STR landscape provides a plethora of accommodation options for leisure and business travellers alike. However, due to its fast-paced growth, there’s little “barrier to entry” in the industry for hosts – meaning bad operators and bad practices can fall into the mix.
While booking a short-term rental is simple for the most part, it’s important to know which red flags to look out for to best protect yourself. As with any holiday-related plans, you’re likely to be investing a lot of time and money into the booking process, and we want to ensure that you’re keeping yourself (and your loved ones) as safe as possible.
Bookmark this article for when you next book a rental property, and if you have further questions after reading it in full, remember that the Luke Stays team is just a short message away.
Below is a compiled list of important things to consider when selecting short term rental properties whether it’s for vacation, business leisure, or any other reasons.
Map Out Your Preferred Features and Amenities
The most desirable thing about short-term rentals is that they offer a much wider range of features and services than hotels, without the additional price tag.
For example, short term rental properties will nearly always give you access to a fully-equipped kitchen, additional bedding, and laundry facilities. So, if you know that your stay is anything longer than three days plus, then bear these things in mind – as you’ll need these additional amenities (or using them as an “extra” can quickly rack up costs).
Most short-term rentals provide far more space than traditional hotel rooms as well. If you’re travelling with children, it’s a good idea to check where the property is located (for example, is there a park nearby?) – you may also need to research things like transport links to and from your rental property.
As a business traveller, you may also need to determine whether you need access to seminar and conference rooms, etc. Of course, larger hotels usually have this on-site (as well as bars and restaurants); however, if you book a short-term rental that’s in close proximity to these places, you’ll end up saving a lot of money on your online booking – while feeling more comfortable at the same time. You just have to find the right short term rentals that we’re discussing how in this blog.
Look Out for “Trust Signals” on the Short-Term Rental Host’s Website
You don’t need to be a digital guru to figure out how trustworthy a short-term rental host is based on their website. In the first instance, keep an eye on whether the copy reads well (spelling and grammar mistakes are usually associated with fraudsters) and that the general quality of the website looks good – as this is a reflection of the brand itself. A host who has attention to detail and is genuinely interested in being hospitable, won’t present a poor-quality website to their audience (even if they’re on a smaller budget).
You should look for trust signals to determine that the STR host is legitimate and reliable. Unfortunately, the industry is rife with fraudulent operators, and it’s not difficult for a scammer to post fake pictures of a property online and lure unsuspecting guests into parting with their money.
At Luke Stays, we offer our exclusive free feature ‘StayCover’ on all direct bookings, which is even better that Airbnb Aircover.
Keep an eye out for the trust signals below when booking rental properties:
- A company registration number, to prove that the short-term rental business is legitimate
- A legitimate contact number (ideally not a mobile number) – a landline number with an area code usually means that the STR operator is legitimate and can be trusted
- Legitimate photos of the property (find out how to do a reverse image search in this article at Business Insider and in the video below)
- Industry accreditation and trust guarantee badges.
The leading (and the only) accreditation platform for short-term rental hosts is I-PRAC, which guarantees 100% trust against property rental fraud and ensures full payment protection.
Short-term rental hosts and properties must undergo a meticulous verification process to become I-PRAC Approved. If your STR host displays the official I-PRAC accreditation logo on their website (which will have an ID number that is unique to them), this guarantees your 100% safety and protection. I-PRAC approval also means that the STR property you’re booking meets industry standards. Find out more about I-PRAC by visiting their website, and learn more about short term rental properties.
I-PRAC is a global trust accreditation & certification operating in 28 countries verifying short-term rental operators as legitimate, trustworthy & professional, ensuring trust and confidence and 100% payment guarantees to business travellers and guests.
Get in Touch with Your Short-Term Rental Host Before Checking-In
A responsible short-term rental host will naturally maintain contact with you, in the run-up to your stay. Again, this is something you wouldn’t normally receive (on a personal level) from most traditional hotels.
Do make the effort to reciprocate and keep in touch with your STR host. Not only will this build trust between the two of you (thus, giving you peace of mind), you’ll have the opportunity to have any last-minute questions answered.
Of course, it’s important not to pester your STR host – however, don’t be afraid to reach out to ask about things like WiFi speed (especially if you know you’ll be working remotely while away), as well as any other information about the local neighbourhood.
Most short-term rental hosts will try their best to display as much useful information as possible on their website and email sequences; but some details can slip through the net, as it’s impossible to pre-empt every guests’ every need. For example, if you have a rare health condition which will require the housekeeping to be done in a specific way during your stay, then you should absolutely contact the host directly and make this known before checking-in.
This is also a great way to check how responsive your short-term rental host is, which will give you an idea of their hospitality. If your questions are met with tumbleweed silence or simple one-word replies, then this can be a red flag – as it suggests that the host is not very invested in your enjoyment nor comfort.
If you’re looking for property rentals on Airbnb, then you should definitely contact the host first before confirming your booking, especially if there’s no trust signals.
Do a Little More Research About the Location of Your Rental Properties
Even though you’ll have communicated with your short-term rental host directly, don’t base an understanding of the location of your rental property through that conversation alone.
Most STR websites will give you an idea of where a property is located; but remember, their job is to make the accommodation sound as appealing to you as possible. A phrase like “just around the corner from convenience stores and supermarkets” is very subjective and could mean anything.
Google Maps is a great place to start once you’ve got the exact postcode of your rental property. From there, you can research nearby transport links, shopping facilities, etc yourself. It’s common for guests to book into a short-term rental under the presumption that they’ll be just a “stone’s throw away” from everything, only to realise that they need a car to travel around the area and access facilities.
Doing your own research about the location of a rental property will also help you factor in other personal requirements, such as dietary preferences (if you plan on cooking at the rental but only eat a halal diet, then are there any halal supermarkets nearby?). Some solo travellers prefer not to feel “isolated” at their short-term rental property as well – if this is you, be sure to find out if your property is located near (or in) a busy neighbourhood.
Calculate Your Budget (and be sensible with it)
Costs can easily tally-up when you’re travelling. Even though you’re likely to be saving more at a short-term rental, compared to a hotel, ensure you have a good idea of what your overall budget is and try to stick to it.
This way, you know exactly how much money you have left over from your personal or business budget to spend on “extras”.
A huge plus point about STRs is that it allows you to book an entire home and divide the cost of it between the number of guests – making budgeting a lot easier if you’re travelling in a group (and this is very convenient for business colleagues as well).
Remember, STR hosts massively favour guests who book direct, as this saves them from forking out on commission fees for Airbnb and Booking.com. If you book directly via the hosts’ website, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll get a better booking rate. We highly recommend contacting the host directly before even making the booking (if there’s a few of you travelling at once) – as the host might even give you a good-will discount.
Read more on how much does Airbnb charge when booking on their platform than booking directly with a property management company.
Other ways you can help your budget stretch that little bit further when booking rental properties is by:
✅ Try and book well in advance if you can. Rates usually shoot up when you’re booking STR accommodation at the last minute
✅ If you can, avoid booking STR accommodation during peak season. Naturally, rates will be higher during Christmas, the summer break, and any other kind of school term-time break.
✅ Make the most of the features that are available to you at your short-term rental. In most cases, you’ll have access to a fully-equipped kitchen, so plan to cook on some occasions while you’re there. This will save you a fortune in eating out at restaurants all the time (try and do the same for breakfast – as those costs really do add up!).
For more information about booking your perfect short-term rental stay or long stay browse some of our short term rental properties through the Luke Stays’ website right here.