Summer vacation season means taking a summer rental for many people. Summer rentals are especially great ways to spend a vacation if you’ve got a month or more. But even a week or two can leave you with a memory you’ll never forget. Of course, that memory cuts both ways. If you don’t know what you’re doing, your dream vacation can very well wind up haunting your nightmares for years to come.
Never take on a summer rental from someone you don’t know on the basis of a verbal contract. In fact, even if you do know them, it’s still preferable to get everything in writing. You don’t necessarily need to involve a lawyer; there are lease forms you can download off the internet. Just make sure you get it witnesses and notarized. What do you need to make sure is included on the lease?
1)The condition of every aspect of the property. In other words, if a window is broken before you move in, get it down in writing. Take note of such things as the condition of the carpeting, drapery, countertops, and anything else that can suffer as a result of your stay. If a burner on the stove doesn’t light, get it down. If the hot water handle on the kitchen faucet is missing, get it down. You want to make sure you aren’t going to be held liable for any problems that existed before you got there.
2)Expenses to be incurred by the renter. Find out beforehand if you’re going to be expected to pay for water and utilities or all those things included in the rental price. Since most people nowadays bring their cell phones with them on vacation, long distance expenses probably won’t be a problem, but it certainly behooves you to find out in advance.
3)Maintenance and general upkeep. Normally, a summer rental comes with a reasonable expectation that you’ll take care of things like lawn and plant maintenance, vacuuming or sweeping, and just generally keeping the place presentable. Some summer rentals come complete with housekeeping services, however. If you get a place with a pool or something else that requires intense maintenance, definitely make sure you are or are not going to be responsible. Keeping a pool clean can certainly cut into your vacation time.
4)Repair expectations. Find out if you are expected to pay for the repair of anything that may break, such as air conditioning or kitchen appliances. Normally, most people wouldn’t expect to have to pay for the repair of an air conditioning unit going on the fritz, but you never know. And if you don’t get it in writing, you could be facing a legal battle depending on the extent of the amount of the repairs.
5)Refunds. Remember Hurricane Katrina? You can bet that a number of people who evacuated were summer rentals. Get a refund policy covering any and all acts of God in writing. Typically, a renter should expect to receive a pro-rated refund of all money paid for any time you weren’t actually able to spend on the property, plus any security deposit.
When you decide to go with a summer rental, you can usually expect to have to pay everything up front, including all the rent as well as any deposits. Although you may get lucky and find a place that will let you pay in installments, don’t expect it. The security deposit is insurance against your trashing the place and you can well expect that if it’s been offered up as a summer rental for any period of time it has been trashed at least once in its history. Therefore, the best method of ensuring your deposit is fully returned is to keep the place in order while you’re there, as well as double check to make sure no children or guests walked out with a five finger discount.
What should you be looking for in a nice summer rental? First thing is the location. If you’re looking for a beach house, make sure it’s really on the beach and not merely in proximity to the beach. After that, take note of the condition of the domicile. Has it been well-kept, or does it look broken-down? Go inside and check out the appliances to make sure they work. Also check out the condition of the plumbing, water, heat and air, electricity, etc.
As far as insurance goes, the actual property should be insured under the landlord’s policy; that includes fire, damage and burglary. Be aware, however, that if you are the one who caused the damage or fire or flood, you may be held liable. Check with your own insurance agent to see about purchasing a rider on your policy to give you added protection. This should also include coverage of your personal effects and valuables, since those will not be covered by the landlord’s policy.