Facing the sea or the mountains, it is the classic Spanish summer. The apartment is the second most popular option to enjoy the summer holidays, only behind the hotel. More than 20% of the citizens who traveled chose this accommodation model in 2021, according to the Center for Sociological Research (CIS), but some of them found that the rented accommodation did not respond to expectations.
“In reality, the percentage of fraud is low, but even so it hurts the sector, especially with the arrival of phishing [identity theft] where foreign networks specialized in these frauds come into play,” explains Chema González CEO of Alterhome Stay , the first vacation rental franchise in Spain, which already has nine units as well as a presence in Panama and Mexico.
From OCU (Organization of Consumers and Users) he reassures himself by stating that “the most frequent problem is that the accommodation does not meet our expectations, the idea that we had of the house from the description of the ad or the photos” .
“For all this, it is important to make sure that the apartment to be rented has a history, that it has been previously rented and that no doubts are raised in the owner’s communication,” González summarizes as the two main precautions when renting an apartment, in the one in which most of the vacation budget is invested.
In 2021, each Spaniard spent an average of 1,015 euros. According to the annual estimate made by the Cetelem Observatory (BNP Paribas), the amount was 226 euros less than the previous year due to the influence of covid-19, but everything seems to indicate that this year the Spanish want to live a summer like before of the pandemic.
Ten tips before renting a summer apartment
“The success or failure of a vacation is often conditioned by the accommodation we choose,” insists Chema Gonzalez. This expert has turned his experience into these ten key points to rent safely this summer, complete with advice from the OCU.
1. Rent through recognized platforms and professionals
“On vacation it is very common that we need to book in places that we do not know, and of which in many cases we do not have references. For this reason, it is essential to choose a company with extensive experience”, explains González.
The irruption of rental platforms makes it easier to select the right apartment, but it is important to opt for channels with guarantees. The same happens when the negotiation is done through a local mediator or directly with the owner, without forgetting that in all cases, the best guarantee is that it offers a verifiable professional experience in the sector and the destination.
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2. Find out before deciding
As in any other purchase, it is important to do some prospecting work to decide having a general idea of what the market is like. It is not about making a professional report but it is about being clear about aspects such as:
- The prices on the dates that interest us. Taking into account that the first fortnight of August can carry a surcharge of 60% and even 100%.
- The conditions of each portal, website or intermediary, assessing their additional costs.
- The location of the town where you want to rent the apartment, assessing whether or not it is convenient to assume the extra price of the attraction “with sea views”.
3. Be suspicious of bargains
González’s advice is to bet on “prices with a correct value for money, because bargains usually hide some drawback”. From the OCU it is recalled that sometimes the lowest prices can also respond to less flexibility in the conditions, so it is convenient to assess the contracting of cancellation insurance.
4. Protect yourself against the most common deceptions
Special mention deserves to address the three most common frauds in vacation rentals:
- Identity theft or phishing. It is the most common scam in recent years. There are many procedures, but they all have in common that the scammer impersonates the digital identity of a trusted place (a vacation rental platform or the Instagram of a real estate agency, in the case at hand) to steal confidential information, for example , bank or mail keys.
- Payment in advance. The scammer invites the victim to leave the platform’s communication and payment channels by offering them an extra discount or other benefit. Of course, once the payment is made, you will not hear from him again.
- The bargain fraud. Very connected to point three. The scammer, through a digital medium or channel or in person, offers accommodation at a much lower price than the market. Once the hook is released, it urges with more or less subtle arts so that the interested party makes a transfer or a cash payment as soon as possible for the reservation of the house.
5. Photos do not always portray reality
Photos are one of the main sources of information, but sometimes they have little or nothing to do with reality. The recommendation is never to rent an accommodation without a photo album, but to critically analyze those that we see, “in many cases they are highly retouched, especially in terms of lighting to give a feeling of more spaciousness,” explains González. And when in doubt about the state of conservation of furniture and appliances, it is best to ask.
6. Check the comments of other users
Contrary to what some people think, they are difficult to manipulate, especially when there is a significant number. The recommendation is to read them carefully, taking into account that human nature tends to emphasize the negative over the positive.
7. Read and understand the rental conditions
We reached a critical point, closing the deal. At this time it is worth keeping in mind:
- If you are renting with an owner or an intermediary. This point is basic for the OCU experts: “If it is with an agency or a company, the user will be protected by consumer legislation, in addition to the one that may govern the lease itself. If it is with an individual, the relationship will be based on the civil rental regulations, although, depending on the autonomous community, the regional tourist regulations will apply.
- If you intend to negotiate, keep in mind that the room for maneuver on a digital platform is less than when negotiating with the owner or his representative. And remember that we are not only talking about the price, but also about the time of arrival and departure (depending on the conditions of the trip), the parking space, the possible stay of a pet…
- Demand the itemized price. González explains that, although it is an obligation to detail the concepts for which the user is going to pay, “it is not always done”. The most common charges are stay fee, commission expenses, extras such as cleaning services, security deposit and/or penalty for damages.
- If they ask you for a damage deposit. It is a relatively common situation, but it is necessary to demand that the application and return conditions be stipulated in the contract. The inventory of the furniture, household goods and appliances that it protects must be reviewed, and before signing it, check its condition.
8. Guarantees the traceability of the payment
It is essential that the signal and rental payment channel be through a secure, traceable means. The most common is to do it through the portal platform with a card, Paypal or transfer systems. All of them offer extra guarantees in case a problem arises.
9. Demand a contract
There must always be a contract that testifies to the closing of the rental agreement. If the interlocutor puts up problems in this regard, the most prudent thing to do is to immediately abandon the negotiation. It must be borne in mind that “online booking has the same legal value as a traditional contract”, they recall from OCU.
10. Keep a copy of the reservation or sign and all the documentation
Recommendation addressed to the agreement between individuals. The OCU advises trying to pay the least amount possible until the destination is reached, and always record the amount delivered in the contract. In addition, all documentation must be kept, including the exchange of emails or electronic messages, to be able to use it in a possible trial.