28 Replies Latest reply: Jul 19, 2012 12:57 PM by iopbeachhouse RSS

    Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership

    super New Member

      I am new to renting. I have received an inquiry for next March 2013. I ask for 50% of total renting to ensure reservation (we are in Florida and there so many properties on the market) and my potential renter is asking to pay 1/3 now, 1/3 in November and the rest in January 2013. Also, he asks me to send him a proof of ownership (government document or city  taxes bill). How to respond to this renter?

      What is your feeling about this?

      Thank you.

        • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
          susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

          Proof of ownership should be provided if requested by the prospective tenant.  The county in DE where my VR is located has a website that lists owners of all properties. Check to see if you can find a record of ownership on-line and if so, email the website address to him/her.

           

          As to deposit: Since you mention you have a lot of competition, if the tenant is willing to give 1/3 of the cost now, I'd go for it.  A bird in the hand, etc. Now means within 1 week. The next 1/3  due January 2nd and the remainder on your normal final payment due date.

           

          Write your contract/lease so that the tenant forfeits his/her deposit if the 2nd deposit is not received by the due date.

           

          I don't know what $ amount is involved. The 1/3 needs to be enough that the tenant would not want to forfiet the deposit.

           

          Before you agree to anything, check linkedin and Facebook for information on the tenant. After talking with the tenant, sometimes you have to trust your gut as to what to do.

          • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
            wiffle Contributor

            While I have not had a request for proof of ownership, it is a fair request given some of the scammers out there. Your potential renter looks to be on top of things.

            • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
              jeffbailey Contributor

              First, welcome to the world of vacation rental ownership!  Its interesting, I've been doing this for almost 7 years now and no one has ever asked me for proof of ownership.  I can't blame them for asking though.  How do you handle payments.  They might have more confidence (and protection) if you accept credit cards.  If you haven't already, check out the HomeAway ReservationManager to handle your booking and payments.

               

              Jeff Bailey

              Creator of Vacation Props, an innovative iPhone/iPad app to manage vacation properties and quickly respond to inquiries

              http://www.fourthframe.com/FourthFrame_Technologies/VacationProps.html

              http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vacation-props/id452612798?mt=8

                • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                  msdebj Senior Contributor

                  Goodness! Don't send a copy of your tax bill!! Too much information is on those!! Your local tax office probably has an online source that doesn't give out specific details, but will verify that you are the owner.

                  Debj

                    • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                      wiffle Contributor

                      Debj, you are right that there is a lot of information available online. But, our vacation home is in an area that has absolutely nothing online. I was so surprised!

                       

                      One can always blacken out any personal information from a copy of the tax statement. The prospective renter can view the copy, and call the number on the statement to talk to the tax office if they have any concerns. Everything on the tax bill, at least where we live, is public information.

                        • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                          msdebj Senior Contributor

                          Wif, tthat being the case, then I guess you'd have to do what you suggest. I can understand folks wanting to verify that WE own our homes, ( with all the scary things HA, and other sites send to potential renters).  I can't imagine what a property management company would do in such a situation. ( thank goodness I don't have to deal with THAT!) :-)

                           

                          I sure hope this type of  request doesn't become the "norm", since VRBO and Flipkey do verify that we own - once we sign up to advertise with them. I'm not quite sure how they do that. I assume they do a records search, in most cases. 

                           

                          That said, we long timers DO have the ability to direct guests to the "date first listed" on the ad sites.( I can't imagine HA/Vrbo and other sites would tolerate bogus listings for a second.)  But, it could put new owners/listers in a bind. 

                           

                          What a complicated world it's become!

                          Debj

                    • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                      super New Member

                      Thanks to all of you for your answers! As I said, I am new to renting business so I have a lot to learn!!! Sorry if it took me a while to thank you back, I still have problem with managing this discussion site...Have a great day!

                        • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                          New Member

                          super - just to add, have you spoken to the enquirer on the phone?  i always do so if anything is running out of the normal - in fact it is good practice anyway, helps to create rapport and trust.  Also, 50% sounds a pretty big deposit particularly as its so far in the future.  I ask for £160 and get balance 8 weeks before arrival.  That being said, once you have created your terms and conditions its an awful lot easier if you just stick to them.  You don't want have to worry whether a guest is due to pay X now or Y later - that's how mistakes happen.  If you have fair T&Cs and they muck about, don't rent to them - they'll be trouble.

                        • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                          New Member

                          I am constantly receiving bookings 6+ months in advance and am already accepting bookings for summer 2013... I have very straight forward terms. #1: 30% Rent Deposit with signed rental agreement. #2: Rent Balance 90 days prior to arrival. #3: $750 Security Hold 10 days prior to arival. If paid by check the check MUST be cashed right away to make sure the funds are good. But, I get 90% to supply a credit card so I can run an Authorization... If needed i can draw from it and if not the Auth simply gets released without any fees.  I own 4 properties and have been using this formula with 100% success for years... Good Luck!!

                          • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                            iopbeachhouse Community All-Star

                            Just had my first issue with a potenial guest asking for proof of ownership. This person has already waiting a week from the time she said she was booking and mailing a check. I have e-mailed her repeatedly asking if it is in the mail. I agree to hold the property 5 business days once the check is in the mail. She asked me to wait while she collected the money. Now, she says the others are nervous and don't want to pay by check because of the scams they read about. She claimed she did a search of tax records and I am not the owner! I did a search and I clearly come up as the owner. I sent the link to her and told her how to search either by address or last name. I also told her to do what VRBO says and call me at the number on their ad. Now I feel there is a serious break in our trust. She is obviously nervous and now I am very uncertain she will follow through. I have others who have wanted this same date and even went on a waiting list to get it.

                              • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                New Member

                                People like this are either scammers or the last type of people you ever want in your home... If you rent to them you will regret it!! They are the type of people who will cause only headaches and complain about everything... Reply politely telling them that because they didn't finalize as originally agreed you've already rented to another family. You are better off leaving the house empty than openning yourself up to thieves or idiots

                                • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                  msdebj Senior Contributor

                                  Oh dear! She 's probably been scared by all the bad press lately - or is trying to scam YOU!. I'd tell her you're sorry that she is feeling uncomfortable. No money received, no contract.  You've done what you can. I'd move on to your waitng list.

                                  Debj

                                    • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                      sophie Senior Contributor

                                      I would not proceed either. Here is what you could tell her:

                                       

                                      "The vacation rental business relies on a great deal of trust between the owner and the guests.  We operate our guest apartment/house with the utmost integrity, and we feel uncomfortable dealing with a customer who does not trust in our business practices.  We feel uncomfortable continuing with your reservation.  Therefore, we are canceling your reservation and are issuing you a refund in full (or if she hasn't paid, say the property is no longer available)"

                                       

                                      Call your waiting list pronto. You know in your heart this woman is going to be a problem.

                                    • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                      swiss-house Contributor

                                      My advice is to forget the checks and start accepting credit cards.  While there is of course a chargeback risk to us homeowners (plenty of threads here about that), credit card payment is about the most secure way for a legitimate renter to make payments.  It's fast, there's immediate verification whether it is valid and goes through or not, and the renter knows that they have some protection from their credit card company if they truly are the victim of fraud.

                                       

                                      Waiting 5 days for someone to send a check?  Forgetaboutit.  They make their payment online and I lock the date for them.  If they haven't paid and someone else asks for the dates, I'll give them a quote too - and whoever gets their payment in first gets the date.  I'm not going to give up fast paying guests for slow payers.  It keeps the tire-kickers and whiners out of our place as well.

                                    • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                      New Member

                                      I cannot believe that we have a "Community Forum" and there is not a catagory for 'Scams'

                                       

                                      We just got a scam inquiry through VRBO that we wasted an hour on and it would have been so easy if there had been a separate Scam Forum that listed, for example:  Bali Credit Card Scam

                                       

                                      I found the exact phrasing of the inquiry, eventually by typing the following in Google: rental credit card scam

                                       

                                      This came up and is worth reading.

                                      http://www.scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=18070

                                       

                                      It says this new type of Credit Card Scam is common on VRBO, So WHY don't we have a Forum Spot right at the top called SCAMS ?

                                       

                                      This particular one starts out with: "We would like to make reservation at your lovely rental vacation ..."

                                       

                                      I am new to the forum, have been an owner with VRBO for 8 years, I am not going to be here at the forum very often, so email me if you want  info@mauichalet.com.   I hope VBRO-HomeAway are not discouraging a SCAM listing because it may be bad for business.

                                      • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                        thaxterlane Senior Contributor

                                        I am booking a year in advance for Summer 2013. 

                                         

                                        My guests put down 25% on signing the lease, 25% on February 1, and 50% and the security deposit ($500) eight weeks prior to their stay. 

                                         

                                        I accept personal and bank checks,.

                                         

                                        This has been working for me without any problems for nearly 20 years.

                                         

                                        I have not been asked to prove ownership.  I think redacting personal information, other than what is required to prove ownership, on your tax bill will definitively establish ownership in the prospective guest's mind.

                                         

                                        Good luck.  Way to go with advance bookings!   I love it when my house "sells out" early for the next summer season.

                                          • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                            iopbeachhouse Community All-Star

                                            It's always interesting to hear the varied opinions of this forum. Thank

                                            you all for sharing.

                                             

                                            We have 6 weeks already booked for 2013 and, so far, accepting checks has

                                            worked well. I don't even know if credit cards would allow us to charge the

                                            50% advance payment we require this far in advance. Some of our bookings

                                            for 2013 are more than a year in advance. We have talked about accepting

                                            credit cards, but I have not been too excited about what I have read with

                                            Reservation Manager payment issues.

                                             

                                            Right now, we rarely have a problem. If we take credit cards, I might have

                                            to take even more than the two payments I take now depending on the limits

                                            imposed by the merchant account. My rates would need to increase to cover

                                            the fees.

                                             

                                            I think the RM badge and the $10,000 guantanee against fraud are only

                                            available if you are a part of Reservation Manager's credit card payment

                                            system and not an outside merchant. Does anyone know if that is true? Our

                                            bank has offered to beat the rates RM charges and they will work with us on

                                            other terms and conditions.

                                              • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                                thaxterlane Senior Contributor

                                                I do not have any plans to accept credit cards.  I am concerned about the trend of online sites to portray credit caars as "the" payment method.  (Could be they are selling the product, non?)   It's true that credit cards work best for renters, but, in my opinon, they don't work best for owners.  The ability of the purchaser (renter) to dispute the charge and tie up the payment(s) for weeks or months is not attractive to me.  The purchaser is likely to come out ahead of the owner in a dispute, in my limited experience of disputing charges when purchasing products and services.  So, I'm staying with the old-fashioned check. 

                                                 

                                                I know that some owners consider it inconvenient to accept checks and believe it decreases the number of inquiries - and the latter may be true -  but I find requring payment by check weeds out those that can't afford my house and it has proven to be a useful part of my screening process. 

                                                 

                                                Again, good luck.  You're off to a great start for 2013. 

                                                  • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                                    New Member

                                                    I never thought about the part "can't afford my house" before when using a credit card. Your right, I could see someone who would be less desirable to have in your home using a card because they could spread the payments out. You just talked me out of it.

                                                      • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                                        wiffle Contributor

                                                        plumbob wrote:

                                                         

                                                        I never thought about the part "can't afford my house" before when using a credit card. Your right, I could see someone who would be less desirable to have in your home using a card because they could spread the payments out. You just talked me out of it.

                                                        I do prefer renters who can afford to write out a check for the full amount. I think it cuts down on the partying crowd. I have had prospective tenants who have had a hard time scraping together a few hundred dollars each, and those rentals have not worked out.

                                                         

                                                        I don't feel that I have to be a lodging option to every single person who wants to visit our town. There are cheaper and sparser options available that take credit cards.

                                                         

                                                        I will take credit cards, now, from repeat trusted visitors who are a good fit for my rental property. But I do not advertise that on VRBO/HA.

                                                      • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                                        wiffle Contributor

                                                        thaxterlane wrote:

                                                         

                                                        I do not have any plans to accept credit cards.  I am concerned about the trend of online sites to portray credit caars as "the" payment method.  (Could be they are selling the product, non?)   It's true that credit cards work best for renters, but, in my opinon, they don't work best for owners.  The ability of the purchaser (renter) to dispute the charge and tie up the payment(s) for weeks or months is not attractive to me.  The purchaser is likely to come out ahead of the owner in a dispute, in my limited experience of disputing charges when purchasing products and services.  So, I'm staying with the old-fashioned check. 

                                                         

                                                        I know that some owners consider it inconvenient to accept checks and believe it decreases the number of inquiries - and the latter may be true -  but I find requring payment by check weeds out those that can't afford my house and it has proven to be a useful part of my screening process. 

                                                         

                                                        Again, good luck.  You're off to a great start for 2013. 

                                                        Agree 100% with Thaxterlane. I probably miss out on some rentals because I don't take credit cards, but I have never specifically been told so. I have heard, after stating my payment terms, that our home is out of the prospective renter's budget. And, that's okay. There are several cheaper places in the area where our rental is located, and there are also some hotels, and a campground.

                                                         

                                                        We are told all the time that we should take credit cards, but we don't have to. I just booked several weeks at a lovely home in a different country and was more than willing to send a check after doing my own research on the rental and the owner, and two phone conversations. To say that we have to operate like big business and put the renter in the catbird seat as far as payment is silly.

                                                         

                                                        Also, I allow three days from extending a rental agreement to receive payment in my mailbox. The only time I have ever had a problem was when someone was either flaky or lying, or one of the dreaded discount seekers of 2011 (year of the discounters!).

                                                      • Re: Early booking, negotiating deposit and asking for proof of ownership
                                                        whosails Contributor

                                                        I take checks by mail and RM check only. It makes it easier for me as I am on an island off the Maine coast, no banks. I usually move the money into a savings account because it pays higher interest. I am not sure what would happen if there was a despute. There is now no fee for the Pay Now checks.