Top tips for renting a vaction property

Here you can find some of the top tips/ideas for renting a vacation property. Remember, a little bit of research before you travel can help to give you the best memorable house rental vacation possible. A summer vacation rental gives you the chance to live large. Finding the perfect beach house or vacation villa isn't easy, but there are ways to set yourself apart from the herd and guarantee you get the vacation you want without breaking your budget. As with most endeavors, planning ahead and being organized are the keys.

Start Your Search Early

Avoid some of the stress and excessive costs that can go with trying to secure a vacation home, particularly during peak season and on short notice, by thinking, researching and planning at least six months (but preferably a year) in advance. While this may seem excessive, keep in mind that vacation rentals - at least, the good ones - usually book up fast.

Get the lay of the land (literally).

Expecting a flat lawn for football, Frisbee, or general frolicking? How big is the property? How close is the next house? Is the lawn level or sloping? Is there a stash of sports stuff available for your use? Is your dream rental a brisk walk away from the beach/lake/town/restaurants/parks/museums/etc.? If so, find out just how far that walk is. One person's "gentle stroll" is another's walk from hell, so be sure get clarity on proximity to local attractions.

Read the Whole Contract

Unfortunately, people are often so happy that they landed the vacation home they wanted and so eager to start having fun that they overlook the importance of the contract. But, this document shouldn't be ignored, as it explains what you are on the hook for. It will outline not only your payment schedule, but also your liability in case of damages or if extra cleaning is needed.

Linens: to bring or not to bring? Know the rental.

Many rentals, but not all, include sheets and bath towels but not beach towels. Some include beach towels but not the others. If you ask me, vacation means a break from washing sheets and towels and making beds. If you feel the same way, be sure to ask so that sweet dreams await when you arrive...rather than chores like making your bed and lugging a pile of dirty linens home.

Grab the garbage pickup schedule.

Who's responsible? What gets tossed versus recycled? Where should you put it? When is the weekly collection? Do you take it to the curb, or do they take it to the dump? Or, heaven forbid, are you expected to take it with you?! Smelly trash will certainly put a dent in your summer fun, so sort this out in advance, and you won't spend your downtime sorting cans and bottles.

Investigate whether the house will be an oven or an icebox.

Some like it hot...and some don't. Depending on where you're headed, ask if the house has air conditioning and/or window fans. If a cabin in the mountains is more your thing, ask if there is a fireplace; if so, are you allowed to use it? And is firewood supplied? Are campfires allowed? Is there a grill? That's a flame you just may want regardless of the temperature...and be sure to ask if it's gas or charcoal so you can plan accordingly.

Take photos/video upon arriving.

To ensure that any existing damage is documented and that you aren't blamed for something you haven't done, photograph and/or video tape the property on the day you arrive. Make sure you record any problem areas. Do the same thing on your last day. If there is an argument before a mediator or a judge later on, this documentation may come in handy. It may even convince the owner not to take you to court in the first place.