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I just rec'd this email from renters arriving in 14 days. Enlisting the communities help with a proper response. My terms in the agreement they signed were quite clear (they've paid half and are coming from overseas):
"I saw that the balance of the rent is due 14 days before we enter the
house. This is quite unusual for us to pay upfront all of a rent, as
what guarantee do we have that we will have access to the house on the
day of arrival? I just realized that apart from your name I don't have
any other info on you. We would like to offer to meet you for the keys
when we arrive and then do the 2nd payment transfer in front of you on
our computer with Paypal?
Sorry to sound so cautious, but nowadays you are never too careful...
I have a few ideas for your response (these are not in any particular order of importance):
You might tell your guest that payment in full before occupancy is standard in the US. These terms are not uncommon in US rental contracts. (In my travels in Europe, none of our contracts have required payment in full.) This should ease his concerns.
Ask him what he would like to know about you and your property to be reassured about his upcoming stay. It's frustrating that he waited until this time to become concerned; it's possible a relative or friend put the idea in his head.
Communicate by telephone, perhaps after arranging a time for your conversation via an email exchange.
A few questions for you: Are you in a position to meet this guest, as he requests, if he refuses to advance payment? Are you willing to forego this rental, if he is unconvinced after your conversation?
I can't comment on the paypal transfer "in front of you" because I only accept checks as payment on my vacation property (full payment 60 days in advance - tell him about that!).
I hope a friendly conversation will resolve this problem for you. Good luck.
Do you have reviews on your listing from previous renters? Is your phone number on the listing? Tell them they should call you on that phone number so they'll know they're speaking to the owner. Does your isting state when the final payment is due? If so, and they are past due, they need to PayPal you immediately or forfeit their week.
I have tons of positive reviews and my phone number is listed. The rental agreement, which they signed, was very clear on payment terms. I emailed them to say we could speak on the phone to assuage any doubt they have. I told them I'd make an exception and accept the balance in cash upon arrival. Honestly, I'm just kind of annoyed. The week they're renting is a VERY popular one and I could have certainly had any number of guests. . . good problem to have, I realize. Just not a fan of red flags - and this is one (again, the terms were clear and they signed them months ago). I'll let you know what they say about the cash.
Oh, I also sent them the City listing showing that I am the registered owner of the property. Believe me, I'm all for putting their mind at ease that I'm not a scammer . . . but they have to understand that owners need to protect ourselves as well.
I guess cash would be OK. Problem is, if they don't show up (unlikely I suppose), you won't have time to rent that week. You sure don't want to let them in the house before you get the full payment.
Better if they're willing to PayPal you now though. They did sign a lease agreement that laid out payment terms.
Other than the fees, why not accept payment through Paypal? In Florida (at least), I would refer the renter to the property appraiser's web site so that they could at least get some assurance that I do in fact own the property.
For some reason I can't reply directly to the forum. Thanks so much for your
advice. I don't mind working with Paypal but I don't love the idea of accepting
it on the spot. It takes several days for the money to be transferred to my
checking account and the sender can contest the charges. Just not as clean as
I'd like. I asked them to arrive with cash. I think I'm just annoyed and don't
love red flags a couple weeks out.
Hi City by the Bay !
I posted a response to you in our San Francisco Network :
Thanks for joining the group !
We require payment 90 days before arrival since we accept only checks and need time for everything to clear. Living 11 hours away, meeting someone to get cash upon arrival would not be an option for us.
You might point out that this is a business that is based upon a certain level of trust. They trust they payment to a total stranger. You trust total strangers to come into your home and use is appropriately without damage. There is risk on both sides. It is a part of this business.
They signed the contract and they should follow through with your requirements.
you could of course remind him that if he pays NOW by credit card via PayPal, he could do a charge-back if the condo is not as advertised. I agree, taking PayPal on arrival is not good, what if the credit card bounces or something else happens.
I would phone him regardless. Go over the other terms of the rental agreement with him, who knows what else he missed.
Here's a copy and paste of my message in the SF Network group.
Also, mauioceanview, I agree with you, it's a very good idea to call these guests, regardless, to make sure that no other "misunderstandings" will arise upon or after arrival!
See message below.
Hi CitybytheBay94118 !
Thanks for joining the San Francisco group.
I agree with sfowner's post above.
I would kindly respond that you understand about the practices being different in Europe, but it is quite common for the full amount to be paid prior to arrival here in the U.S. I agree with sfowner that you don't need to change your policies for this person; I'm sure it's a great inconvenience to you. I would offer to talk with these guests on the phone, direct them to your reviews, and allow them every opportunity to alleviate their fears. But I would stick to the policy of payment in advance ... perhaps you can modify it to 7 or 10 days in advance, to give both parties time to talk on the phone, etc. But if you don't have payment on time, honestly you should be able to open the dates up to other parties who may want to book it for real.
Right now you don't know whether these people are scammers who are trying to get the 50% off, also. What happens if they show up on the day of arrival, and they say "Something happened, now we don't have the other 50% payment." In that case, what will you do? Most likely you cannot re-rent it on such short notice (day of arrival). So ... probably you'd be forced to bargain with them. Or you could simply refuse to rent to them, which would be a lose-lose because the guest would lose 50% of their payment, and not get to stay there ... and you would have received only 50% payment for a stay that surely would have been booked for full price.
On the other hand, most likely these are very nice people who are just being cautious. Most likely someone they know, or a news article they read ... planted the fear in ther heads at the last minute.
But even though they are probably very nice, honest people .... I'm with you, CityBytheBay. I would find this vexing because ... while I do understand their caution, I don't understand why they didn't do their due diligence to alleviate any fears BEFORE entering into the agreement with you, and BEFORE entrusting you with their 50% deposit money. This is awfully short notice to be having cold feet now, I think ...
There has to be a lot of trust on both sides of a rental agreement. We (the owners / managers) have to trust that the guests are responsible, honest people who will take good care of our apartment and not steal stuff and not be rowdy /noisy and not to be scammers ... and they have to trust that we will be there and will provide this apartment for them to rent, in good condition, and as advertised.
Good luck from the 94110 !
Hope you can write back and tell us how it all worked out ...
Not to be argumentative, but I would never suggest a "charge-back" to a person that you already have questions about. I think that might open the door to a suggestion that after they leave and have even the slightest thought that they didn't like something they could try to do just that without justification.
I, for one would never open that door! Just me though!
I personally would meet them and get cash. If you have 50% of the money now, I do not anyone that would say to heck with it and not follow through.