Vacation rentals have been the topic of much reports and discussion at TravelAgentCentral.com in 2010. Most recently, a study by Homeaway Inc. revealed that, despite the recession, interest in this market continues to rise. But, like every good thing, doing business in vacation rentals comes with risk— specifically in the Gulf Coast and Florida.
Setting the BP oil spill aside for the moment, agents should remain aware of the various kinds of fraud that have affected the single home vacation and family rental properties in the U.S. There are lots of fraudulent vacation rental spots made available these days and are advertised over the Internet or popping up across the country.
According to Gulf Coast Western Complaints, a frequent scam involves a property putting up on a classified ad where an unwitting victim gets in touch with the advertiser for securing the rental with the deposit money or the entire amount that is requested without verifying whether the property is at all a legitimate one. Once the payment is done, the scammer, who seems to appear as the landlord of a property which he/she does not own, is never heard of again. The growing concern is that, although there are no statistics to substantiate the issue, lawsuits are expected to increase during the summer.
The first thing that you can do in order to prevent such a scam from taking place is check with a real estate agent to verify the authenticity of the rental property with a professional in the field. Look for the property records to authenticate who the actual owner of the property is. A lot of property records are searchable. Check who the owner is and get in touch with the necessary authority to find out if the property is indeed a vacation rental. Also, be aware of making indirect overpayments to the property owner and acquire their bank details before going for a financial transaction.