Travelers seeking an experience that mimics the feel of being a local are more often than not ditching hotels in favor of renting another person’s home. (Hence homestay mega-giant, Airbnb). While this can make for a unique experience, there are personal safety issues to keep in mind while renting a home in a foreign place.
For starters, make sure you thoroughly read the contract so that you know exactly what is included and excluded. For example, the contract may stipulate that you will lose any deposit you’ve put down if you don’t clean up after yourself. Before signing anything, make sure that the host is legally able to rent out the home. In today’s age where websites like Airbnb attract thousands of users, there have been many legal situations involving property owners and travelers. Ask for documentation; if the person is reputable they will have nothing to hide and will be glad to give you proof.
Any payments and communications should be done via the rental company website instead of directly with the property owner. This will add another level of security and significantly reduce the odds of fraud or your identity and credit card information being stolen.
Another very important aspect to look at is the number of ratings a host has, as well as how high the host’s rating is. You should never stay with anyone that has less than about 20 reviews, just to stay safe. Many hosts come and go very fast just trying to make a quick buck, so make sure you are staying with a reputable host who other people have trusted and left reviews on.
The home you’ll be renting will likely have security measures in place like an alarm and the standard door locks. As you would when visiting any foreign place, use common sense and proper judgement. Keep your valuables at home, thoroughly inspect the references and be aware of your surroundings. If it feels sketchy or unsafe, have a backup plan. This is also a helpful step should the host be a no-show.
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