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Once you've drawn up a list, simply E Mail, ring or fax the contact number given in each advertisement. in most cases you will get straight through to the owner who can answer all your questions about the property and the area it's in, and will probably be able to send you a brochure or fact sheet, say what dates are available and confirm prices.

Don't make a firm booking until you're sure the travel arrangements will work out. If you're planning to drive down, that shouldn't be a problem - ferry and Channel places are usually plentiful. But if you're flying, you need to be certain there will be a flight and seats available on the dates you want, so ask the owner to hold the property for you for 24 hours. And don't just book by E Mail - confirm it all in a letter or a fax

It's obviously a good idea to be careful about sending off payment to someone you haven't met. In practice there are seldom any problems -  people who own properties abroad and let them out want a collection of happy customers who will keep coming back. But before you send any money, ask for written confirmation of the dates, agreed prices and any extras (like pool heating, cot hire or extra cleaning and also check for breakage insurance) that will have to be paid for locally or in advance. This will form the basis of your contract with the owner, and will be an essential document if there should subsequently be any dispute. Often property owners will have a collection of satisfied customers - ask the owner if it is OK to contact one or two of them by phone to get an independent view of the owner and the property.

You will usually be asked for a deposit and to pay the balance before arrival. This is normally just a matter of sending off an ordinary  cheque or making a wire transfer.

Please note the following points to minimise the risk of Fraud

  • If you wire transfer money, make sure that the name and country that you are wiring the money to, bears some relationship to the person that owns the property. Be very wary if the wire deposit is to a western union account
  • Be suspicious if a alleged property owner asks you to send a check to his assistant in another state or country - don't do it! You are sending your check to someone who thinks they have a real job processing orders. They will deposit the check into their account and then wire the money to an overseas account and then your money will have vanished
  • If possible, pay by credit card or paypal, as you will have protection by paying using these methods.
  • If you do have to pay in foreign currency, your bank can issue a cheque in pesetas, dollars, pounds or whatever, but will usually make a charge for this facility.
  • Be wary if the property owner will only take cashiers checks. This should be a red flag. If a property owner requires a cashier check, take additional steps to assure the owner and rental are legitimate.
  • You can also ask for utility bills showing the address of the property and ask for testimonials. Most genuine property owners are happy to provide this.
  • Also make sure that any insurance or breakage deposit is clearly listed and not tagged onto the bill at the last minute.
  • Be very suspicious if the rate is "too good to be true" . This particularly applies to listings in Miami Beach, New York and Manhatten, where scammers are known to operate
  • Above all, if you are at all suspicious - walk away and report the property to us. We take every precaution to prevent fraudulent property owners listing properties with us, but a determined fraudster can sometimes slip through, so it pays to be aware.

    And remember that once you have accepted offered accommodation - verbally or in writing - you have entered into a legally binding contract. If you have to cancel, the onus is on you to let the owner know as soon as possible, to give them the opportunity to re- let. In the event of cancellation the deposit is usually forfeit, anyway, but if the premises are re-let, you should not be required to pay the full value.

    We hope that no complaint arises from any booking made for a property listed on this site. However, we do appreciate that problems will crop up occasionally. In all such cases we recommend a swift complaint, made directly to the owner - preferably on the day when you first encounter the problem. Speed is of the essence, because the longer the delay in complaint, the harder it is to deal with. And don't be afraid of complaining to the owner in person, for it's in the owner's interests to solve the problem straightaway. But if you do not complain to the owner in this way, you cannot expect direct action. If you have cause for complaint regarding premises graded by a tourist board, then you should also complain in writing to the tourist board's Quality Assurance Unit in the region concerned.

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