6 Replies Latest reply: Apr 14, 2012 5:50 PM by anja RSS

    What info should I be getting from a renter, and how do I verify it?

    New Member

      Hi, I'm new to this and am trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible. I listed my property and have begun to get inquiries and people wanting to sign agreements. How do I go about verifying a renters information? What's to stop someone from giving me false information and looting my rental? What information should I be requesting, and how do I verify it?


      Thanks in advance,


        • Re: What info should I be getting from a renter, and how do I verify it?
          Senior Contributor

          Cobah, first thing you need is an detailed contract that is signed and dated. And, I know there are various opinions about this, but I also require a copy of the credit card AND driver's license ( other government issued photo ID). These are standard requirements when you rent a hotel room.


          Those must be in my possession before I even charge their credit card. Period. No exceptions.


          Require a Damage Deposit. This is NOT applied towards rent.


          As for screening, I use facebook, google, etc. to search their email address, name and phone number, before I even reposnd to an inquiry. It's amazing what people post on Facebook.


          Just a few of my tips, that have worked well for me over the years. I'm sure others have other ideas as well.


            • Re: What info should I be getting from a renter, and how do I verify it?
              anja Senior Contributor

              Hi cobah,


              This has been a topic for discussion, and continues to be. If you use the "Search" bar at the top of this page, type in the word  "screening" and then try "interacting with guests" to find some previous posts that will give you ideas from what other Owners feel about it...and do.


              You can ask inquirers for any indentification that you want  [except don't ask for USA Social Security numbers}. Common ID info is acceptable as hotels do this, too.  Some people will comply. Some will not.  You will have to try a few tactics to see what works. But, set a policy for yourself. You can put it in your advertisement, on your website, what is needed by the Owner prior to accepting a reservation.  It's your home.  It's your business.  You decide what will  make you feel comfortable.  Some Owners have a rigid I.D. requirement...some less.  For some Owners, just a phone conversation and a credit card works.


              There are other things you want to know about people before you give access to your home....along with their I.D.  As  msdebj  does, I also try to search for any of the personal details that an inquirer offers when they contact me.  More often than not, I'll do a "search" online even before I answer the inquiry {it depends on how the inquirer is approaching me in their inquiry}.


              True example:  Just a couple of days ago, I got an inquiry that sounded innocent enough. It was from a person who said that he and his wife were looking for about a week in a 10-day period in my location for a particular time frame, "...please send availability and price".  He offered his full name in the saluation {which is a good sign...and it was a very unique name so I thought I'd be able to easily 'search' it.}  So, I first entered the guy's email address into my Google Toolbar....only three references appeared for the emails. But,  one was something on YouTube.   I clicked.


              I was disgusted by what was uploaded onto YouTube by this individual.  Entertaining --- NOT.  Disgusting, immature antics between him and his friends playing with food in, what appeared to be his kitchen - which was messy {his  'wife'  ??? was sitting at the kitchen table laughing.} Their ages were twenty-somethings. They were from somewhere in the United Kingdom...not that it  mattered because I get many UNK guests who are simply wonderful...but I'll mention it here because using your imagination, it could add to the flavor of the 'piece' concerning popular "regional foods".  My inquirer and his buddies were pulling down their pants, inserting food into the crevices of their backsides. I clicked away in a nano second but had seen enough to gross me out the entire day....it will be awhile before I enjoy another plate of fish & chips.   Jolly ho...away we go --- NOT to my place!  {My apologies to anyone in the UNK ---  I'm just communicating what I saw and heard.}


              I am, however, finding it increasingly difficult using people's emails for searches. Most email addresses lead to nothing, for me, because people create them to inquire {only}.  So, for the inquiry,  I would also like a full name from the person {to aid in my online screening search}.  However, again...I am finding that too many of my inquirers do not include a full name in their inquiry.


              A common...in fact...a typical inquiry I get reads like this:


              I'm wondering if you have availability for x/xxx  to x/xxx.  Please send information and price.   Thanks, Bill, Bob, Marge {or JJ} ...but hardly ever surnames.  And, their email will be  gmail, or hotmail....one that was newly created and not traceable to any content links.


              I'm not comfortable with that type of inquiry because  I do not favor revealing my information if they will not tell me who they are, and how many people they travel with.  If there is a phone # offered, I'd call, first.  If no phone # (which is common), I usually reply with an "interim" response aimed at getting more information from the person....it's not an "interrogation message from me"....it's just a friendly reply telling them that I may be able to help them and would like to send them my information pack, by email.  Usually, they respond with what I need to be able to give them a comprehensive, thorough information package  that will help them decide if my place is right for them  {but, note that it is I who will decide if it is suitable --- if I'm not content with their response!}. My information pack contains everthing about my place they need to know, including rental terms & conditions + the price for their stay...for their consideration.   Whatever happens from that point between us is "contractural" (if I agree to accept the reservation}.


              It helps to get a phone number from the inquirer...so you can call them.  However,  I notice that the overwhelming majority of my inquirers do not offer me a phone number!  I have to ask, usually.  Sometimes, I never hear from them again (!!)....some people will not give it just for the inquiry {strange, these days}.  One woman wrote back to me that her # is private and she only gives it out after she gets the first "response" from the Owner...to see if she is really interested.  Geeze, the games we play, these days}.  I did not "invite her to reserve my place for other reasons that I do not have to go into here......e.g. her Trip Advisor review contributions told me a lot about her  -- she signed off with her "nick name" which proved to be very searchable.


              There are many Owners that  only book after they've had at least one phone conversation. So, perhaps, as you are new to renting, you should tell your inquirers that, as the property Owner, you'd be happy to speak over the phone.  You can gain a lot of information from an inquirer,  in a conversational manner {not interrogation manner}: who they are, who they are traveling with, have they visited your area before, have they ever rented a private vacation home, the purpose of their visit to your location {vacation or business...attending special family event, etc..}  Just by being friendly, but also business like --- it's a balancing act --- you can get information you want.  And, then you can decide whether they are a "fit" for your place.


              I have to turn down some people who travel to my location to use my home for purposes that I not only would not agree with, but I am not "licensed" for.  Like, weddings and other types of group gatherings. For example: I've been asked if a guest's family & friends could come  over for a  "luau" at my place.  I  LOVE family luaus....but I can not permit my guests to invite who they know on the island to my place. I take all  "requests" on a case-by-case basis, but there are some things that I can not ...and will not....permit here.  I will never permit anything that could upset other residents in my immediate area...and potentially cause me to be considered a "nuisance" vacation rental Owner.  My resident neighbors are WONDERFUL!  We  all know each other...and respect each other's peace.


              So, you should find out what type of "experience" your inquirer expects when using your home. It's important for the inquirer to know that your home may -or may not- be suitable  {you decide who stays / what your home is used for}.

              Other Owners here will have similar and perhaps different tips on what to find out, before you book.  All of us are very experienced and have a lot of value to share.

                • Re: What info should I be getting from a renter, and how do I verify it?
                  Senior Contributor

                  anja makes some great points. Like her, I've noticed a real drop recently in the information travelers provide when making an inquiry.


                  One thing I do now, when I get a generic request with no last name, phone #, etc. is to respond rather genericaly back. 


                  I let them know that the property is CURRENTLY available ( 1st come , 1st serve). I then ask for more information : name, phone number,  ages of the guests, is there any special reason for their trip, etc. ( I do this nicely, by saying I want to make sure our home is appropriate for them.)


                  I then give VERY basic information (our age restrictions, price breakdown, How to Confirm a Reservation,). I then end the note this way:


                  "If  you have any questions, would like more information or wish to proceed please let me know. I can email you a Rental Application/Agreement and we can go forward."


                  Easy, since I have several templates I just cut and paste- takes less than a minute or 2.


                  They will either give me the information I need, or my home will suddenly become unavailable for the time period they are interested in.  They get no specific  information from me unless I get it from them.


                    • Re: What info should I be getting from a renter, and how do I verify it?
                      anja Senior Contributor

                      Yes..that's it!   I agree  msdebj!  That's a similar generic response I send.  It usually works to get what I need....I won't send them my information package unless their reply is what I need.  I probably lost a lot of potential business....but I also probably was saved from a bad renter experience, too.   It's all relative.



                      It's been discussed here before:  the Traveller needs to be "educated" on "How To Inquire".  The Traveller needs to learn and understand that private property Owners need to know who they are before we will do business with them...give them our keys....and that it is us who selects them!  No Traveller would permit anyone into their homes if they did not know who, what, where and why, either!


                      This has become more important as vacation rental scams become more and more widespread.  Both parties have to be aware that we both need to foster trust, with each other.


                      HA can do A LOT to educate the Traveller On "How To Inquire".


                      The Inquiry Form:  I would also like the inquiry form to be completely filled out, with full name, email address and a valid phone number from the inquirer {not 555 555-5555} ...and program the "inquiry form"  so it will not "send" if it is not completely filled in.

                        • Re: What info should I be getting from a renter, and how do I verify it?
                          iopbeachhouse Active Contributor


                          I absolutely agree with you about the "inquiry form". I have filled out forms on other web sites that will not accept the form unless all the information is included.

                            • Re: What info should I be getting from a renter, and how do I verify it?
                              anja Senior Contributor

                              I think that the Inquiry Form can tell us A LOT if only the inquirers were forthright with their request, by telling Owners what they *really* need.  It would save us a valuable time that we otherwise waste dealing with some of these inquiries. Afterall, the 'inquiry tool' is supposed to help us Owners [who pay for this service] with servicing the Travellers' requests.  I think the 'tool' can be improved. I know that this OP's question was specifically about I.D., but the 'inquiry tool' and the Travellers' poor inquiry skills play a part in whether we, Owners, feel secure from the get-go starting with the inquiry.


                              Example: four days ago, I got a inquiry from a guy who stated he wanted to rent my place, QUOTE:  "For me and my wife {no children}."  It was an 8-night proposed stay. We emailed each other a couple of times to get some specifics. Then, I sent him my information pack which includes all details...that I "tailored" for him and his wife's stay --- and I offered a discount because it was a time of year it slows down here.    I heard nothing for three days.  I thought he was "gone".  On the fourth day {this morning},  he responds that he and his wife love the place, location, the amenities, the price...but they will not be renting it because, QUOTE:  "We are actually coming to the island to "get together" with  3 other couples --- and your policy for extra visitors will not work for us. "  He should have mentioned, in the inquiry, that the place was NOT needed for  "just me and my wife"!    I would have had a very different response...certainly my price would have been very different. But, regardless, I can not fit 8 people into my small cottage --- even if it was just for "day stays". I have a limited capacity which *is stated clearly in the ad that he did, indeed, read because he had questions*!.  Why the heck did he not mention that there are 3 other couples in the mix...coming and going?????   That information should have been in the "comments" section of the first inquiry --- because the guy could clearly see that my place was TOO SMALL for 8 adults to hang around in. Was he really intending to squeeze 8 adults {who knows, maybe more tag along} into my one-bedroom cottage?  Why bother to even inquire with me if he knows that they will be 8 adults "using" my cottage....why not seek out a more spacious place "to entertain" their friends?


                              The Traveller needs to be educated on How to Inquire.


                              And, that inquiry form supplied by HA/VRBO could be updated to prompt Travellers to include important *details* in the *comments* section. I would like to see something like:

                              - Number of people?

                              - How many extra guests will visit?


                              It would be wonderful if the "inquiry form" were formulated  so that it is really ***useful***  for the Owners to work with....it is us who have to 'serve' the interests of the Traveller....but the Traveller is not "encouraged" to be specific so we can do the job!  P.S.  I apologize to Doug /OP-cobah if I took your question and ran with it.  But, there is a lot we Owners need to know about people during the "inquiry process".