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Vacation Rental Scams

By PacificRimPropertyManagement | Homeowner / Renter Tips , Property Management , San Diego County , Uncategorized

A vacation rental is a great option while traveling to have the comforts of home. However, scammers love to take advantage of vacationers by making false promises and creating a sense of urgency to fool them into paying for something that doesn’t exist.

How the Vacation Rental Scam Works:

Con artists post listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, don’t exist, or are significantly different than pictured. They then lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. Typically, the “owner” creates a false sense of urgency – maybe another vacationer is interested in the rental – to get you to pay up before doing sufficient research.

Another common travel scam is the timeshare resale con. A timeshare owner who is looking to sell gets a call from someone claiming to be a real estate broker or agent. These scammers claim to specialize in timeshare resales and promise they have buyers ready to purchase. To secure this service, the scammer pressures the target into paying an upfront fee. The timeshare owner pays up, but the reselling agent never delivers.

Tips to Avoid a Vacation Rental Scam: 

Talk with the owner. 

If you are not using a service that verifies properties and owners, do not negotiate a rental solely by email. Many vacation rental scammers don’t live locally, get the owner on the phone and ask detailed questions about the property and local attractions. An owner with vague answers is a clear red flag.

Some reputable vacation rental websites are: airbnb.com, vrbo.com and redweek.com. For long-term rentals, check out our vacancies.

Check public records. 

Investigate on Google or another search engine. Look up the address and use Google Street View to confirm the property matches the one advertised. Also, verify distances to beaches, attractions and airports while on the site.

Look for reviews and ask for references. 

While you’re vetting properties, check online reviews. Some vacation rental websites provide an opportunity to rate the rental property as well as the owner or property manager. If the property you’re considering doesn’t have any online reviews, ask for references and call them. Again, listen for vague answers, this may indicate the reference is simply a friend of the scammer.

Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card. 

Never pay for a vacation rental by prepaid debit card or wire transfer. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once you send the money, you have no way to get it back. Paying with a credit card is your best bet to avoid being out money because of a shady vacation rental. If your rental ends up being a scam, you can dispute the charge and dramatically limit your liability.

If it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t. 

Scammers lure in targets by promising a vacation rental at low prices. Do your research. Be suspicious if the listing you are considering is much cheaper than others in the area. In general, free online ad services are also going to be more risky than a site with fraud protection features.

Garage Doors – Legislative Alert

By PacificRimPropertyManagement | California State Law , Homeowner / Renter Tips , Property Maintenance , Property Management , San Diego County , Uncategorized

California, in 2018, experienced its most destructive fire season in history. Widespread power outages made it difficult or impossible for some to escape. Some residents perished because they were unable to manually open their garage doors.

Reports from the 2017 Northern California fires recounted stories of neighbors stopping to help raise garage doors. Some people did not have the strength to manually open their door. A mother struggled to get her disabled son into a car because their custom van was in the garage they couldn’t open.

State Bill 969 Will Open Garage Doors…

On September 1, 2018, Governor Brown signed SB 969 into law. This legislation requires newly sold or installed garage door openers, for residential use, to have battery back-up.

SB 969: The Facts Behind Garage Doors!

  • The law goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
  • The law applies to all new residential garage doors and garage door opener installations.
  • Home owners will need to install a battery back-up opener when a new door is installed, or when replacing their existing opener.
  • A battery back-up function is required for automatic garage doors that are manufactured for sale, sold, offered for sale, or installed in a residence, and must be designed to operate when activated because of an electrical outage.
  • A violation of this law will be subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 per opener.

The Immediate Impact:

The full impact of this new law is still unknown. It will, at least create a new disclosure and inspection item when selling a home. Real estate sales agents will need to ascertain the date of the door opener installation. Home inspectors will need to test the battery during a home inspection when selling a home. Battery back-up may require periodic testing for rental properties.

Are you searching for a cleaning company?

By PacificRimPropertyManagement | Homeowner / Renter Tips , Property Maintenance , Property Management , San Diego County

Selecting cleaning services is common practice for our Property Management brokerage. Refer to the following tips on hiring a cleaning business or individual cleaning person:

Some tips:

Do Your Research: Ask friends, family members, and neighbors to recommend a reputable cleaning business or individual. You can also check out the businesses through bbb.org. Beware of businesses with poor reviews and multiple complaints, more importantly see how they address them.

Interview Candidates: Interview multiple candidates to determine if you would rather hire a large cleaning business or an individual person. During the interview try to meet with someone from the cleaning business. The best option is to meet with the person who will actually be cleaning your home. Find someone you feel comfortable with, since they will be working in your home.

Check Credentials: We recommend you hire a licensed, bonded and insured business or individual to work in your home. This will protect you in the event something is broken, stolen, or if someone gets injured on the job.  Be sure to request a background check for the employee/s that will be working in your home. You may want to complete a background on them yourself for peace of mind.

Request References: Ask that the business or individual you hire provide you with a list of references you may contact. When speaking with the references, look for a business or individual that has repeat satisfied customers. Ask the references about the services they use and if the business lives up to their expectations.

Discuss Cost: Determine whether you will need to hire the cleaning service for service on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, and ask about their pricing. Find out exactly what is included in their services and make sure it encompasses everything you wish to have cleaned. The business should walk through your home before giving you an estimate. Does the cleaning business provide their own cleaning supplies? If not, the cost of the services should be less expensive. Keep in mind, the least expensive cleaning services may not be giving you the best deal for your money.

Get Everything in Writing: When you decide on the company to hire, make sure you have a written agreement. The agreement should spell out clearly what the cleaners will be doing in your home.  Define a reasonable time limit for the tasks to be done each day the cleaners come to work.

Prepare for the Services: Before the cleaning business arrives at your home, it’s important to put away any clutter. For example, put away jewelry and other valuables, and warn the cleaning business about pets living in your home.

NOTE: 

Pay attention to words like “licensed,” “bonded,” and “insured” when you hire a cleaning service. Do not take anyone’s word for it. Check your local laws to see what is necessary for housecleaners and verify what the vendor claims. 

Get a copy of the company’s insurance certificates with the name of its insurance agent and carrier. Call to verify that the cleaning service’s bond and policies are in effect. Note the dollar values and coverage limits. Is the dollar value on the bond or policy high enough to cover your house? Also check to see that the company has its own workers compensation insurance policy. Avoid the risk of being sued, if an uninsured maid or cleaner is injured in your home he/she may sue you.

Definitions:

  • bond is a form of insurance that protects you from criminal acts by the people who will work in your home.
  • Insurance protects you if the cleaning people cause an accident, such as forgetting to shut off a faucet or losing a key. (This is typically referred to Liability and/or Worker’s Compensation Insurance.)