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Tips Before You Book That Vacation Rental

Are you going down the shore this weekend?  We'll be down the shore next week.  For people from Philly and South Jersey, "down the shore" is where we go during the summer. 

While it doesn't necessarily mean going to the beach, it definitely means being at one of the great South Jersey shore communities for a period of time. If you are headed "down the shore" this summer, please take these important steps before you book your rental to ensure your vacation lives up to your expectations.

Who am I dealing with?

 The Internet has made searching for a vacation destination extremely convenient.  There are a variety of websites specializing in short term rental properties.  Many sites have listings set up by the property owner while others utilize a property manager that is typically a local real estate agency. 

If you are dealing directly with the owner, you still need to confirm the identity of the person your dealing with. You want to confirm the name and address of the owner either through a government issued identification card or confirming ownership of the property through the county register or clerk. 

There are many scam artists who purport to be the owner who will "lift" information on a property in an effort to rent it.  Be leery when communication is exclusively by email or phone.  Also, they may claim to be out of the area and cannot show you the property but expect payment to be sent immediately.      

Questions to Ask

Every family is different and only you know what is important to your vacation happiness.  Before you plunk down your hard earned vacation dollars on a summer rental, consider asking questions that may be important to you and your family. 

Can I use all the items in the house?  Bikes?  Beach chairs? Are there any parking restrictions?  Am I within walking distance of local stores?  Are the surrounding properties rentals or are they owner-occupied?  Who do I call if something breaks?  Is there Internet access throughout the house?  Knowing the answers will eliminate confusion and ensure your expectations are met.

Rental Agreement

Make sure there is a written rental agreement containing the parties name and address, rental dates, and amount of rent.  It should also contain a provision explaining what happens if the property can't be rented out through no fault of the owner or if you or a family member become sick and cannot make it.  Many agreements provide for a total or partial refund if cancelled so many days or weeks before the rental term.

Travel Insurance

When a rental agreement is silent as to a refund, renters should consider purchasing travel insurance.  This will give you peace of mind knowing you are protected if something unforeseeable happens.  Many policies may also pay for medical treatment should you or a family member become seriously ill.   Be careful to read the fine print and understand what is covered.

If you take the time to plan your next trip down the shore, you can concentrate on making the memories that will last a lifetime!

Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss "date rape."

Victoria M. Dalton is a dedicated Family/Elder Law Attorney with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Email correspondence to [email protected] or call 856-845-8243.

Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational material about the law and is not legal advice.

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