Paris rental scams, how to avoid them
Renting a vacation apartment can save you loads of money on your trip to Paris, but added stress of scrutinizing the rental agency for scams is an inevitable part of making your final booking. Arranging for an apartment from abroad without being able to see it in advance, dealing with people you have never met and paying large sums of money internationally, as well as language and cultural barriers mean that there are certain risks involved with booking a vacation apartment in Paris.
The pros still far outweigh the cons, but Paris Hideaways Vacation Rentals provides top tips for avoiding rental scams.
1. Trust your first instinct
If you feel like you are being scammed, you probably are. If you feel like something is not right, it is not. You should feel 100% comfortable with your booking, as where you stay in Paris can affect the success and enjoyment of your vacation. This goes for the price of the apartment as well. If you see an offer or late deal that appears just too good to be true, then chances are is will be. Conduct research on multiple websites before committing, making sure that the prices quoted are realistic for the area and the size of the property.
2. Payment – never pay through Western Union or any service to an unnamed supplier.
Western Union immediately pays the payee and the money is out of their system and off their hands. If there is a dispute later, you will not be able to find out who the money went to if you have paid through Western Union. There is no good reason why the vacation apartment rental agency should not have PayPal, accept cash on arrival, or accept personal check for the deposit.
3. Payment – Security deposit
Some companies require full payment of the apartment as well as the security deposit, while others only require a partial payment and security deposit before your arrival. If you are not comfortable with paying in full before arrival, there are plenty of agencies who do not require this.
Several scams occur around the deposit. Either you may not get your deposit back for the smallest of reasons, or there may be added charges which were not made clear in the initial booking, such as cleaning fees – which with any quality agency should already be built into the price.
One excellent approach to deposit payment that trustworthy agencies employ is pre-payment of the deposit by check. You write out the security deposit in a check in your currency which you supply the owner upon arrival. The check is then only cashed should damage be caused to the apartment by the renter, otherwise, the check is never cashed, and you must not wait and worry until your security deposit is repaid into your account.
4. Check for contact details on the website
A quality vacation rental agency will supply all necessary contact details on their website: phone number, email address, and a contact person. If the agency is anonymous, do not trust them. Even if the apartments offered are real and available, why rent from a non-personal, faceless agency when there are agencies who will supply you with contact details from minute one.
You can also check the registrar of companies at www.societe.com and
do a search to see if the company exists.
Or check www.whois.domaintools.com to see if the contact details for the owner of the website match the details you have been given or are displayed on the website.
5. Google, google and google some more!
If you are being offered an excellent rate and are hesitant to pass up a great deal (that is, after all, the whole point of apartment rentals), search the name of the agency online –in Google and on travel blogs and forums. If it is a scam, someone will have reported it somewhere. See below for a list of links on the subject.
Also, make sure to check the address of the apartment. If possible, check both the number and the street address and make sure that if the apartment does exist, that it is in the district / location you are being told it is in. Additionally, scrutinize the pictures you have of the apartment carefully, and make sure that the information given about the apartment match what you see in the pictures.
References are a tricky gray area. On the one hand, an agency might be willing to provide you with references from previous renters. On the other hand, should this be an attempt at a scam, then the references may just be in cahoots with the scammer, and be providing false information to you as well.
Third party travel websites such as Trip Advisor and Fodors forums are much more reliable, as forum participants will act as references if they have stayed with the company and will certainly share negative experiences with rental scams as well.
7. Get personal
If the agency is customer focused and offers quality apartments, then their phone number is on the website for a reason – use it. Call and ask questions in as much detail as you need. You have the right as a costumer to find out what you are purchasing beforehand, and a trustworthy agency will be happy to discuss with you your requirements, needs, areas of choice and any additional information you require.
Renting a vacation apartment in Paris can be an excellent experience and save you a significant amount of cash on your European adventure! By trusting your gut and doing the necessary research on the agency and the apartment of choice, you be in a much better position to avoid any scams or surprises with your Paris vacation apartment rental.
8. Be aware of French legal requirements
When you move into an apartment, it is best to carry out an inventory with the landlord and/or the agency. Please ensure that any damaged/broken object is stated in that inventory before you sign it. If something is already damaged when you move in and it is not written on the inventory, the landlord will be entitled to hold part of your security deposit when you move out.
Depending on the length of your stay, a certain number of guarantees can be required by French law. It is also recommended to get an insurance policy, which mostly aims at protecting you as the tenant, when you rent an apartment. Those requirements might not exist in your country and you might want to hurry in renting a place. However, you should be aware that a quick and easy renting process does not always mean that the agency is good. It is also important to know that the agency you choose, abides by the law.