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Owner direct or rental agent?

Australia
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363 posts
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Owner direct or rental agent?

My dilemma is whether to choose an apartment with a rental agency or one that is owner direct arrangement.

My fear with the owner direct is that you have nothing to fall back on if there is a major dilemma with the apartment or obtaining keys etc who can you go to .....no one. You deposit money in their bank account with seemingly no recourse . Whereas with an agency it is a registered business and with that comes some responsibilities. and authorities to answer to ....or else ...beware of trip advisor forum!!

Also if there is a problem with the apartment an Agency can supply you with another whereas hiccups with owner direct could maybe leave you stranded without immediate accommodation.

Would love to hear of your opinions

New Hampshire
Destination Expert
for Paris
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1. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

Either way, everything turns on the owner/manager of the specific property you book.

You should not presume that any agency is a registered business (with whom and so what?) that come with some responsibilities.

Most agencies do nothing more than list properties and collect a fee just to put you in touch with the owner/manager, so it's really an "owner direct" arrangement. There is often nothing an agency can/will do if anything goes wrong anywhere in the process. They may try to assist you with difficulties, but, ultimately, the owner/manager may cooperate, or not.

During busier times, an agency, or even an owner of multiple properties, may not be able to provide alternate accommodations, or what is available may be much pricier.

Any apartment booking is a leap of faith, even those through "reliable" agencies. Things do, occasionally, go wrong, no matter how you book.

Due to various (if infrequent) reports (double bookings, reservations withdrawn, repairs required which render the property uninhabitable, etc.), I've learned to book a hotel backup (which can be cancelled without penalty) just in case.

If you read the terms and conditions, most include provisions (agency or owner direct) holding them not responsible for all sorts of situations which could occur.

Travel insurance is also a good idea, especially if it covers accommodations which become uninhabitable or are withdrawn.

West Sussex, England
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2. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

I prefer companies like www.rentalfrance.com and www.parisbestlodge.com which own/manage a small portfolio of properties in Paris and have a head office in the city.

Both are honest and reputable and have had many positive reviews here and on Slowtrav. I have used rentalfrance myself several times and have friends who have used Parisbestlodge.

(Hope I will not be in trouble for posting this, as I have been warned in the past for too actively promoting these two companies! I DO NOT have any connection with either of them other than that I have rented from rentalfrance several times. I DO NOT receive anything from either company for recommending them. I am doing so purely because the OP asked for advice)

P.S. I agree with djk, you do need travel insurance, since your booking deposit will be non-refundable.

Edited: 19 October 2010, 13:16
London, United...
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3. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

I tend to agree with you which is why I went with Guest Apartment Services http://www.guestapartment.com/. They are a letting agency but directly manage all the properties themselves, even down to employing the cleaner. They also have an office on Ile St Louis so are easy to find when/if needed. Their prices are all inclusive- no additions for cleaning, and they take credit cards for both the rental and the deposit.

Completely hassle free experience.

New Hampshire
Destination Expert
for Paris
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4. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

This is quite typical:

"Guest Apartment Services Paris cannot be held responsible for breakdown of mechanical equipment of the accommodation or common to the building, such as pumps, boilers, lift, electric doors, heater systems, TV antenna etc., nor for failure of public utilities such as water, gas and electricity, TV cable. "

London, United...
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5. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

djbooks;

Typical of what?

Australia
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363 posts
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6. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

The idea of having an agent though is someone who can initiate a process that can fix the problem. As a stranger to the country you wouldnt have a clue where to start.

I will certainly be having insurance and the idea of a hotel reservation is a good one.

I found Guest apartments extremely expensive.

At the moment I am tossing up between My-apartment-in Paris and Home-Away.

London, United...
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7. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

Annette, that's exactly right. rather more chance than an owner in another country.

GAS may be expensive because of the location(s); or possibly because they are good!

It's pretty rare that cheapest and best are the same thing.I spent quite a long time looking (as everyone does!) and found both more and less expensive options, this met all my requirements at an acceptable price.

Good luck with the search- hope you find exactly what you are looking for.

Scotland, United...
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235 posts
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8. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

Just returned from Paris late last night, we stayed in our second rental with owners direct and would not do it any other way, someone has always met us with keys and been only a call away if we needed them also very good contact with both owners via email, with both apartments we have paid half the deposit via pay-pal and the remainder on arrival, also paid a deposit

( to ensure you look after the place) that gets returned to you at the end of your stay when you return the keys.

The 2 apartments we have stayed in have been in different Arrondissements with different owners, both have been immaculately clean and central to everything we wanted. Both apartments have been in very French areas!! where you use the same bars,cafes and restaurants as the locals.

As well as Paris we have used owners direct in Rome, Carcassonne, Germany, Annecy.

Scotland, United...
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235 posts
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9. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

Should have give this info www.OwnersDirect.co.uk

London, United...
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10. Re: Owner direct or rental agent?

Annette; I have just looked at the 'My Apartment...' website. Only a quick glance but if you check the T&C it appears that the quoted price does not include the agency fee or the cleaning fee. Those are the sorts of things to look out for.