Raleigh, N.C. — Summer vacations are in full swing, and more and more people are skipping the hotel and opting for a vacation rental home.
House rentals do not have to follow the same rules as hotels, so Consumer Reports recommends doing your homework and asking questions.
Karen Zalusky said when she booked through Airbnb things looked perfect.
“As soon as we walked in, you could tell that something wasn’t right,” she said.
Zalusky said there was a terrible smell. It turned out, the homeowner kept pets in a room and didn’t clean up after them.
“Vacation rentals are not regulated in the same was as hotels, which means you really want to reach out to your host before you book,” said Dan Wroclawski, a Consumer Reports home editor.
Before you book, have an actual phone conversation with the owner or manager. Don’t just rely on email or text. Consumer Reports also recommends asking about the photos, and if anything has changed.
You can also verify the photos through a Google image search. To go one step further, ask for contact information for recent renters. You can use them as references. And of course booking with a credit card always offers added protection.
Consumer Reports also recommends asking about safety. Does the property have a fire extinguisher, working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. A 2018 study found only 56 percent of Airbnb listings had carbon monoxide detectors, and only 42 percent had a fire extinguisher.
In Zalusky’s rental, the carbon monoxide detector was unplugged from the wall.
“The house itself was just totally unlivable,” she said.
The good news for Zalusky is that she got a full refund from Airbnb and the company removed the listing from their site, to help keep others from getting caught by a rental that is far less than picture perfect.
It’s also essential to read the reviews with a critical eye.