It can be nerve wracking booking a furnished rental apartment in a place you’re unfamiliar with, and there are people out there who are looking to scam travellers. Don’t worry though, there are lots of things you can do to protect yourself! Let’s take a look at some top tips and advice…
Research the area
If you’re not from Tampa, it can be easy to get fooled. You might not be familiar with the average price of short-term rentals, and unaware if any images included on the listing are real or not. Do a little bit of research on the area by checking out multiple listing sites. If one lists apartments at a much lower price, it’s likely they’re out to scam you. What’s more, there’s probably a reason for the low price, like high crime rates or undesirable characteristics.
Request the address
We recommend requesting the complete address of the property and carrying out a Google Street View search of the surrounding neighborhood. If the company is legitimate, they’ll have no problem with giving out this information. Have a look at the shops and businesses nearby. Does it look safe? Would you feel comfortable walking around the area? With a quick search online, you should also be able to find out the average crime rate.
Check out the exterior of the property too. Does it look well looked after, or is it dilapidated and run down? Trust your instincts; if you don’t think you’ll be comfortable staying there, don’t book it!
A quick look at Google Street View will also ensure you’re not fooled by great looking pictures of the property. It’s scarily easy to doctor an image and remove unsightly and unsafe characteristics, but Google Street View gives you an unfiltered look.
What’s more, some companies will book a reservation for you in a property that doesn’t even exist yet! Having the full address will help you avoid a situation like that.
Check with a local
National chains don’t have that vital, on-the-ground expertise that a local company can offer. A local business can let you know the ideal central location for your needs, the best travel routes in and out of the area, where the best restaurants and shopping opportunities are nearby, and the essential details that will make your stay as enjoyable as possible. If you ask the booking company these questions and they’re only able to give generalized answers – or no answer at all! – don’t book with them.
Check the property
Does the listing show the actual property you’d be staying in, or is it a ‘sample’ property, with example photos? Some companies will do this to entice you, but when you arrive at the property, it looks completely different to what was shown in the listing. Ask them to confirm that the property in the listing is indeed the ‘real’ property.
Check the reviews
Whenever you buy anything, what’s a surefire way to find out whether it’s what you’re looking for or not? Read the reviews! The booking company should be able to direct you to online testimonials through sites like Google, Facebook and Yelp, and Trustpilot also offers reviews of larger companies. Be aware that any testimonials on the website of the booking company might be completely made up, so tread with caution.
Be careful who you book with
Though booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo can organize your entire reservation and offer a huge range of options, they aren’t truly vetted, and there are a large number of fake listings on there. The person creating a listing can essentially write whatever they like in the description, and include images that are outdated or of a different property entirely. Just stating that an apartment is ‘fully furnished’ does not necessarily mean there’s even one item of furniture in there!
Book with Ready Stays
Ready Stays is a local, family-owned business that knows Tampa Bay; we live, eat and breathe it! We have an easy-to-use website, which displays all our available properties. You can check them out here. What you see is exactly what you get. We don’t post ‘models’ or ‘example’ units. We even offer virtual tours for several of our properties, so you can see the exact layout without even needing to leave your couch. There’s no tricky camera angles or funny business, just a clear view of what we have to offer.
If it’s reviews you’re looking for, we have dozens, all from legitimate past residents who’ve stayed at our properties. Find them on Google here.
Our options are based in low-crime neighborhoods, so you can be sure that you’ll be safe and secure during your stay. All our apartments are located off major city thoroughfares, meaning they’re very easy to travel to and from.
Book today with Ready Stays, and your stay in Tampa will go off without a hitch!