Three couples rented a house this week in Florida. We selected the place after an extensive search using criteria of natural setting, water-front, quiet, three bedrooms, fully-equipped kitchen, views, kayaks/canoes provided, cost with a no-smoking policy. The house is on an estuary with manatees, ospreys, pelicans, egrets, Great Blue Herons, oyster-catchers, and advertised a million dollar view. It was too cool for the manatees, but that’s understandable. All 10 of the renters who rated their experience gave it ***** out of five. Hmmm.
QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT WANT TO ASK BEFORE BOOKING A VACATION RENTAL.
Do the owners live on the lower level?
- Do the owners smoke?
- If they smoke, how many packs/day do they smoke?
- Does the smoke seep up through the floors into the closets of the rental unit?
- Do they smoke anything else?
- How do we get up to the rental unit?
- Are the steps inside or outside?
- If outside, are they protected from high winds and torrential rains?
- Do the beds squeak?
- Is there an odor and standing water around the house that’s related to nature, but not the estuary?
- Are you on the city sewer system, or do you have a septic tank?
- If septic tank, has it been pumped out in the last year or two?
- Is there a limit on the number of showers we can take per day?
- What’s the meaning of a “quick” shower?
- Is there a limit on the number of times we can flush the toilet before it runs down the driveway?
- What kind of deck and balcony furniture is provided?
- If it’s made of plastic, how long has it been weathering?
- Has any of the plastic chairs on the balcony crumbled underneath a renter recently?
- Do you have drinking glasses? How many?
- Do you have coffee cups? How many?
- Do you have enough forks, knives, and spoons for six people to all eat at the same time or must we eat in shifts?
- Do you have a dishwasher?
- Will we need to buy Imodium because of the drinking water?
- When it rains, does the rain pour through the top of the west-facing window frames?
- Does the wind echo through the house like a freight train?
- Once you lower yourself the kayak from the deck, is there a way to get out without injuring yourself?
- Did you build the house yourself with the proper building permits?
- Was the house built with salvaged materials?
On the plus side, when we asked the owner for more plates, bowls, and coffee cups – there were four or five of each – he said he’d go downstairs and tell his wife. Nothing happened. Later in the day, before dinner, we asked again. “Oh,” he said “I’ll be back in 20 minutes.” He returned from Marshalls with newly purchased plates and glasses. We were grateful. He went back for the coffee cups, and everyone was happy!
Now…about that broken plastic chair that still sits the bedroom balcony!
- Gordon C. Stewart, FL, January 22, 2016