Scam Alert: Tips for Avoiding a Vacation Home Rental Disaster

Avoiding vacation home rental scam

You’ve likely heard the stories: a family shows up at their dream vacation home rental only to find it was a fake listing, double-booked or in shambles. Or how about the family who makes it to their anticipated destination only to discover the homeowner will be spending the week with them…along with his intimidating pet dog? Stories of home rentals booked through popular listing sites can fray your nerves.

A recent survey by Wyndham Vacation Rentals found that nine in ten (89 percent) vacationers who have never rented a vacation home would consider doing so. But fears of renting from a do-it-yourself homeowner ultimately stop many from trying. Forty-five percent worry about the safety of a home if renting directly from an owner, and 24 percent listed concerns about being scammed as a top reason for not trying a rental. So how do you navigate the marketplace to find the perfect home rental?

The best way to avoid pitfalls when booking a vacation home is to work with a professional manager who can vet the home for you and ensure hospitality-grade standards are met. Here are some additional tips to help you avoid a potentially bad vacation home rental experience:

  • Rent from a reputable source. If you’re using a listing site, search for properties managed by names you recognize like well-known hospitality companies or local property management companies that have been servicing their communities for years. Working with a company like Wyndham can help prevent risk. Its unique Peer-to-Peer Plus approach connects travelers looking for an authentic home stay with owners looking to rent out their homes, while providing both with a range of services to ensure a hassle-free rental experience.
  • Look for guarantees. Some vacation home rental sites offer guarantees that ensure your rental will meet certain standards. Wyndham offers its Vacation Rental Bill of Rights®, which provides assurance that among other things, all of its properties are clean, well-maintained and regularly inspected.
  • Watch out for fraudulent listings. Fraudulent listings often offer aggressively low prices to attract would-be renters. If something doesn’t feel right or the deal seems too good to be true, proceed with caution.
  • Avoid hijacked ads. Scammers often lift property descriptions and photos from legitimate rental or home sale listings and create bogus ads on other sites. Copy and paste the listing description and do an Internet search to see if it’s a direct match with listings from other sites. If so, do some more research.
  • Be your own private investigator. Check online maps to make sure the property address is legitimate and use the satellite view to see if the property matches the listing description. Check local tax records to verify if the person you’re dealing with is truly the homeowner.
  • Pay securely and in real time. Avoid rentals that demand payment via wire transfers or pre-paid cash cards. Insist on paying via credit card or PayPal so you have recourse to get your money back. It’s also important to find a vacation home rental site that has real-time availability calendars to avoid the possibility of double-bookings.
  • Ask about on-site guest service. What if your stove breaks in your rental you just bought hundreds of dollars of food? Even worse, what if the person you booked with lives across the country and can’t be reached? Guests should ask whether there’s a local team on and to take care of any issues that may arise.  


Ready to plan a vacation home rental experience? Avoid guesswork by finding one that’s professionally managed.

Source: Why Professionally-Managed Matters Survey conducted for Wyndham Vacation Rentals by Kelton Global, 2015-16