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Thread: Vacation Rental Scams?

  1. #1

    Default Vacation Rental Scams?

    hey guys- this will be my first year at coachella! a group of us from hawaii are renting a house in rancho mirage via VRBO.com. i guess i'm just looking for some reassurance here. we contacted a guy named James Nello (who apparently owns a few houses and rents them through VRBO). he had us mail him our down payment, which i thought was a bit sketchy (but i'm not sure how these things work as it's my first time renting from a site like this) so i asked him if we could do credit card transaction via the website or paypal or something, which he said he could not do. He forwarded me to a VRBO representative that validated he was a great property manager and we bought the vacation insurance from vrbo. we still need to mail the rest of our payment at the end of the month, but i can't seem to shake this feeling that i'm getting scammed. when i initially spoke with him to make the reservations he was uber helpful and gave me all the codes and combinations for the house and numbers of people to call to verify himself. anyways.. even though we bought the insurance which will take care of the money aspect if we are getting scammed.. i don't want to end up stranded after flying in from across the ocean with no place to stay for this festival we've all been dying to go to for years. any suggestions, words of wisdom? thank you ^^

  2. #2
    Coachella Junkie sonofhal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    What drug is your paranoia the side effect of?
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    well, for all intensive porpoises it is, will sell out within seconds tomorrow.
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    It's jsut dawned on me that I'm overly confident and a extremely ocd perfectionist.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Well, I can't vouch specifically for someone. But, I have used VRBO twice, once in London and once in Paris. No huge problems either time. In London the lady who was supposed to meet us was an hour late and the wifi router that was promised was broken. But, we did mail cash deposits and worried a little bit like you are, but it worked out as promised for us both times.

  4. #4
    Member dcbell05's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    I have used VRBO twice (Tahoe rentals) and haven't had a problem. However, the places I used were managed by professional real estate companies that had seperate webpages. I'm not totally surprised he doesn't want to pay credit card over the phone or paypal because both have fees associated with them, however it does cause you some worry. Not sure if he's being shady or just trying to maximize profit.

    If you have the insurance, at least you won't be out the money. If you need last minute lodging, I've heard in the past there are last minute cancellations at hotels and such. You can also maybe find some campers that would be willing to let you crash if you have a problem. Make friends with other places to stay, just in case.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigJT View Post
    Well, I can't vouch specifically for someone. But, I have used VRBO twice, once in London and once in Paris. No huge problems either time. In London the lady who was supposed to meet us was an hour late and the wifi router that was promised was broken. But, we did mail cash deposits and worried a little bit like you are, but it worked out as promised for us both times.
    thank you!! that makes me feel better.. i hope i'm worrying for nothing, but better to be safe than sorry especially since we're not from the area.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Quote Originally Posted by dcbell05 View Post
    I have used VRBO twice (Tahoe rentals) and haven't had a problem. However, the places I used were managed by professional real estate companies that had seperate webpages. I'm not totally surprised he doesn't want to pay credit card over the phone or paypal because both have fees associated with them, however it does cause you some worry. Not sure if he's being shady or just trying to maximize profit.

    If you have the insurance, at least you won't be out the money. If you need last minute lodging, I've heard in the past there are last minute cancellations at hotels and such. You can also maybe find some campers that would be willing to let you crash if you have a problem. Make friends with other places to stay, just in case.

    that's great advice! hopefully it doesn't come to that but if we need to i guess we'll have to shell out for a hotel, luckily we got the park n ride shuttles so it's a bit more flexible.

  7. #7
    Coachella Junkie Mugwog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Perhaps if you offer the extra paypal fee he will do paypal. It's the only way I'd accept money online. Protects you if you get scammed

  8. #8
    Member flowbee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elikanizzle View Post
    he had us mail him our down payment, which i thought was a bit sketchy (but i'm not sure how these things work as it's my first time renting from a site like this) so i asked him if we could do credit card transaction via the website or paypal or something, which he said he could not do.
    This is not really uncommon. Some landlords are not comfortable with over the internet transactions (many are old/old-school) and most certainly prefer check or cash. Besides the modest paypal fees, there's the risk of the tenants filing a chargeback, often long after the transaction. Then it becomes a headache trying to resolve it through the CC company or taking them to court. As long you received an agreeable contract to sign, have some email/phone history with them, and verified they are real and it's not some foreclosed home, you're gonna be fine.

    Remember, the landlord's probably a little worried about your party too. Think about it, he's doing a short-term rental of his house for a group of festival-goers he does not know. Just enjoy your stay there and respect his house

  9. #9

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Quote Originally Posted by flowbee View Post
    and verified they are real and it's not some foreclosed home, you're gonna be fine.
    hmm.. how would i verify if the home is foreclosed or not? he told me it's a brand new home that has just been built and no one has stayed in it yet.

  10. #10
    Member hippityhip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    I apologize for the following long post but it might help you out. So I recently looked for a rental thru websites like the one you listed. I was eventually contacted by a company called Mclean Company Rentals. It seemed like a great price for Thursday-Monday so I jumped on it because all rentals closer to Coachella were either already rented or extremely overpriced. I quickly gave the representative the FULL payment of $1100. Now at first I didn't catch on until I did my research which I should have done in the first place. So this is what happened. The rep tells me to do an E-check rather than use my credit / debit card because of the convenience. So I do and the payment was taken out 5 days later. When we first talked he had told me that I was going to receive an e-mail with the rental agreement. On the 5th day when I noticed the money gone but no e-mail I decided to call them. When I talked to the rep I asked him to send the agreement again. He did so and I asked him if I could also get the address of the place I was renting. He responded by telling me that they would give me the address to the place the day I came to pick up the keys. This is when I became suspicious.

    So I start doing research and the company looked legit. I then noticed complaints from other renters. I started to ask many questions thru email so that I wouldn't end up in a he said she said situation in case I had to dispute and get my money back (remember always have physical proof of things and conversations if you need to dispute money and agreements). So I wrote to the rep and had a huge lists of questions for him to answer. Some were "why am I not given the address before hand? What if I want to verify this is an actual residence? What if I want to search city records and verify that the person listed as the owner actually IS the owner?". I also asked to get all future correspondence and conversations strictly thru email. The morning after I get a call from his supervisor giving me a bunch of bs and telling me he had to speak to me to address my excessive concerns (even after I clearly asked only email) and that he would restate everything we talked about in an email so I can have proof of what was said which I thought was fucking retarded.

    So then after that I emailed back and said get me back my money. I noticed that on their rental agreement they had a bunch of stupid rules that are set up imo to trap the renter and maximize the amount of fees they can collect. For example there was a $125 fee if furniture was moved around. They also would keep your $300 security deposit if anything was broken or missing. <--- that was a trap seeing as though no one physically was going to meet me AT the rental. So what if something was missing or broken from the previous renter and they didn't notice until I left the property? They would then try to sick me with that fee. They wanted us to go thru the rental and inspect everything and jot down anything that was missing or broken like if we were renting a fucking Uhaul truck to which I responded "the last thing I want to do on my vacation is WORK." I found on their agreement that per their agreement with property owners they are only allowed to rent to families. This is something they did not ask me and I used that technicality to get my money back.

    So basically what I found out is that another person who complained had a similar story to mine. They showed up to get their keys the day of only to be told that their unit was no longer available and that they had to upgrade to the only remaining units they had and they had to cover the difference. The complaint stated that they were never given an address in the first place so there was no way to confirm what unit was not available. I later found out that they more than likely encouraged me to pay by E-check because it is much harder to dispute the charge with your bank and get your money back. If you use a debit / credit card you are protected by VISA / Mastercard and it is much easier to do a claim with the bank and get your funds back.

    Moral of the story: Do your research! If it feels funny go with your gut instinct and gtfo! This was a legit company who had very shady business practices. Be careful! Good luck!
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    I rented a condo through VRBO last year. While, I sent all monies through PayPal, I also could not shake the feeling that I was going to get scammed. However, I drove there, parked in the driveway and the key was under the doormat as arranged. So, I don't think you should be too worried. Just keep in touch with the owner/renter and all should be fine.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    hippityhip & darth_bater thanks for the great advice!! i feel so much better about our situation now. can't wait to relax at our vacation rental and party at coachella!

  13. #13
    Member HowToDisappear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    vrbo is a very reputable company, and I've rented through them several times over in the years in different cities, including Indio. As flowbee said, what your landlord has requested you to do is not at all uncommon. The fact that he has multiple rentals, has a good history with vrbo and has given you references should be adequate reassurance. Check his references if you're still feeling squeamish, and if this is a new, unreviewed property, take a look at the online reviews of his other properties. You'll be fine. Have fun and don't trash the man's house.
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    old school Goatchella's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Snort drugs off all the pictures in the house

  15. #15

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    I have a question about occupancy? Has anyone rented a home and had more guest than the maximum occupancy? Staying in a home for 6 but might have 8. Staying in the Palm Desert country club and just curious about it since the contract says reservation can be terminated if there is over occupancy.

  16. #16
    Member Inthecolumbiagorge's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    I have rented homes through VRBO at least 10 times and never have had an issue. Some people just do not like doing money through paypal and that sort of thing and are old school about having checks in the mail. If it was through VRBO I think you are fine:-)

  17. #17

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    We've rented several houses through VBRO and had an over occupancy (teens in sleeping bags) and never had a problem. Usually the owner is in a different city/state and you never see them. However, last August for OSL the owners of the house we rented dropped in on us every freaking day! Lucky we didn't have an over occupancy. So it just depends. You should be able to tell if they are local through your correspondence. Oh, and be respectful of the house and you should be fine.

  18. #18
    Member amma_sol's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    My parents own a rental house and use VRBO. They only accept check. I don't think you are getting scammed. Everything sounds fine. Don't worry so much.

  19. #19
    Member AgainstFeist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Im using vrbo and renting a home for Coachella. Everything you mentioned souds like standard procedure. I like how you contacted vrbo directly to ask about the guy. My deal it set and ready to go, but I will be doing that in the futureif the rental is not through a property management company.

    I can't stress enough that we all need to be respectful to the homes. the security deposits are getting rediculous and it seems like more landlords are blocking the Coachella dates each year.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    My family owns a house in Florida and we rent it out on VRBO. Pretty sure that VRBO requires references and makes sure your home is actually legit and you are authorized to rent your home so you don't have to worry if you rent from there. Plus I know we pay like $300/year to have our house hosted on their website so it's not like anyone can just post a rental on there like craigslist or something. Don't worry!

  21. #21

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    How did it go? I'm actually considering renting from him for the second weekend of coachella

  22. #22

    Default Re: Vacation Rental Scams?

    Quote Originally Posted by hellokiki3 View Post
    How did it go? I'm actually considering renting from him for the second weekend of coachella
    It went better than perfect! I can't vouch for him enough. His house was amazing, he gave us a great non coachella price. We couldn't have been more happy staying at his house!

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