If you are planning a short stay in London for a few days or weeks, you may well want to find somewhere to rent rather than take the hotel option, but you would be advised to follow some advice and rules before you part with your cash.
The majority of rental properties that are available in London are perfectly legitimate and you may not experience any problems, but when you find out that the rental is not in a good location or not what you expected for any reason, it can soon turn into a less enjoyable vacation than you envisaged.
You may well decide that if you are a frequent visitor to London or want an investment property, it might pay off in the long term to buy a property that you can use and also get a rental income from as well.
You can take a look at homes listed for sale that take your eye when you are visiting or researching the capital. In the meantime, here are some tips and hints on how to find the perfect short term property rental.
Questions you need to ask
If you see a rental property advertised that you are interested in, you should ask some questions to verify that the flat or house is what you are looking for and whether it is exactly as advertised.
Ask the owner or the rental company for the exact postcode for the rental property. This information is a very useful way of verifying where it is located and by searching a site like streetmap.co.uk using the postcode, you can take a look at the street view to look at the property and also check out the neighbourhood and local amenities and transport links.
Also ask what the bed configuration is, such as single or double beds in the rooms and also check whether any linens or towels are included with the rental.
Most efficient and legitimate property owners will be used to getting questions about things like heating, electricity charges and check in times, so whatever it is you need to know before you book or arrive, communicate your question to the owner or their agent.
You should always be on your guard when it comes to making payment for the rental.
If you are asked to make a payment via Western Union, this could leave you vulnerable to fraud because it is a payment system where it is easy for a fraudster to have no fixed address and be able to collect the money from anywhere in the world, making it very difficult for you to find them or get your money back.
Ask for an alternative method like PayPal or credit card for example, which would at least confirm to you that the person would have had to verify their identity to set up the payment facility.
Beware the bargain
Take the time to do some research on current rental prices, so that when someone quotes you a price that is much lower than you were expecting, it is either a good bargain, or it could be scammer trying to draw you in with a tempting price.
Knowing what the going rate for rental prices is, will help you to negotiate a genuine price with a legitimate owner and it will help you to spot what might be a potential fraud which is designed to take money from you under false pretences.
Just remember there is plenty of truth in the saying that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
It is always worth asking the property owner whether they are a member of a tourist scheme like Visit Britain.
If they are a member, they will have a rating for their property, so you can check out what others are saying and also authenticate their credentials at the same time.
Searching for a property through a recognised holiday rental portal rather than looking for holiday lets through a free listing site like Craigslist or Gumtree. The owners may well have used these sites to save on costs, but so many of the adverts can simply turn out be placed by scammers looking for their next victim.
If you are unsure about any aspect of the arrangements, try to check the details and even consider Googling the number or names you have been given, to see if anything positive or negative has been posted about them.
Paula Yates used to work as a real estate sales broker. Now retired, she still keeps on top of the real estate field. You can find her articles on property related blogs.