How To Safeguard The Contents Of A Holiday Rental

Staying in holiday rentals is the preferred choice for many keen travellers. Staying in a beautiful property located in a desirable spot can make a holiday much more special, providing travellers with the freedom to spread out and enjoy the home away from home experience to the fullest. Embedding themselves into a new locale is much easier if they are staying somewhere with full amenities and optimum comfort.

Having said that, holiday-goers cannot afford to overlook security and safety when choosing rental properties. Unlike hotels, private rentals don’t have front desk staff working around the clock, keeping tabs on everyone who comes and goes within the vicinity. Safeguards like alarm systems, cameras, and other technologies aren’t always guaranteed when staying in an overseas holiday rental, no matter how exotic or tranquil it might be. This is why you must rely on your own common sense and due diligence of holiday rental portals and the property manager or owner.

While it’s likely that most holiday rentals are perfectly safe and offer sufficient protection, it’s always wise to take precautions to ensure your belongings are protected during your stay, as well as your own peace of mind. Follow these tips to ensure that your next overseas excursion is safe and stress-free.

Verify your host and listing

Whether you’re booking your accommodation through a reputable local estate agent, which is normal in countries like Spain or via a trusted property portal, it’s always crucial to ensure that your rental property’s host and/or owner is legitimate.

While all reliable providers will take steps to ensure that all listings are authentic and not misleading, some scams or fraudulent listings do slip through the cracks. Therefore, you should check the property’s reviews and listings carefully and methodically before placing your booking.

Here are some other things to look out for and verify:

  • Look for verified accounts; established hosts with plenty of good reviews are less likely to be running a scam. Platforms like Airbnb have badges for seasoned, reputable hosts.
  • Check all the intricate listing details. Do photos seem professional? Are amenities, house rules, and other details fully outlined? Scam listings tend to have sparse info and seem quite sales-y and desperate in their prose.
  • Search listing addresses. Run the address through a search to see if it's a known rental property. Fake listings may use fabricated or non-residential addresses, while others may be in rough areas with minimal security.
  • Communicate through the platform to confirm all details. Don't go off-platform to email or text with a host, keep all exchanges on the official rental site, and go through the vendor if any alarm bells ring.
  • Use secure payment methods. Pay only through the rental platform, never via wire transfer or cash. Legitimate, trusted owners won't ask you to pay outside the site or application.

Taking a few minutes to vet listings and hosts can help you avoid bogus listings and ensure you're dealing with a real rental owner.

Research the neighbourhood

Once you’ve booked your accommodation, familiarise yourself with the surrounding area before and during your stay. This will help you make more informed decisions and understand the real-world risks at play.

  • Learn and comply with local laws. Some Airbnb properties may have strict curfews or regulations to adhere to, while areas themselves may have to keep noise to a minimum after a certain time. Ensure that you’re capable of meeting these expectations.
  • Popular tourist or attraction locations often draw more thieves and scammers. Rentals on their outskirts may be safer. Even if it means you have to venture slightly further afield, you could be making yourselves inherently safer.
  • Ask the host for tips. Your host can offer guidance on safe areas, neighbourhoods to avoid, and other local insights. Ultimately, if they care about your custom, they will want to ensure you are comfortable and safe.

Arriving clued into all neighbourhood conditions allows you to make smart, situation-appropriate choices for a safe stay.

Secure entrances and access points

Entryways are a common vulnerability for vacation rentals. Secure all possible access points as much as possible to prevent intrusions and unwarranted trespassing:

  • Lock windows and doors. Check that all ground-floor windows have locking mechanisms. Close curtains or blinds at night and definitely don't leave doors unlocked, even when you're there.
  • Check for hidden or spare keys; these may be concealed under fake rocks, planters, or other innocuous ornaments. If necessary, liaise with the host about their whereabouts or remove them if not needed.
  • Remember passcodes. If using a keypad lock with an access code, make sure codes are memorable but not easily guessable like ‘1234’. Don’t share codes publicly. Property managers should ensure that passwords are changed for each booking.
  • Limit copies of physical keys. If you use traditional keyed locks, there should be minimal duplicate copies to prevent misuse. Have a rekeying policy for lost keys.

For owners, securing a holiday home doesn’t need to cost much either. The most important point is to control and limit entry access points to keep your rental and belongings secure against intrusions.

Ask about security systems

Confirm any of the property’s built-in security technology with your host. Does the rental have security cameras, alarms, or other systems that enhance safety?

Ask your host about existing features or options to add:

  • Outdoor cameras. Exterior cameras covering entryways can deter and record trespassers. Make sure they are not unnecessarily invasive and easy to use.
  • Interior cameras. Indoor cameras provide further monitoring but may make some guests uncomfortable, so confirm whether you are at liberty to turn them off once you are inside.
  • Burglar alarms. Monitored systems can automatically alert authorities of a break-in. Ensure the host explains how to operate it.
  • Motion detectors. These systems turn on lights and send alerts when they detect activity, helping deter potential thieves.
  • Safe boxes. Provide a secure place to store valuables like passports, jewellery, and electronics.

Ask your host upfront what measures are in place to ensure that the property’s security fits your comfort level.

Use your common sense

Your own habits also help keep a holiday rental secure:

  • Whether you're there or not, keep entryways locked at all times and never prop open doors.
  • Don't post your location. Be cautious about posting travel photos publicly while away that reveal your location.
  • Conceal valuables. Keep cash, electronics, jewellery, and travel documents out of sight in bags, drawers, or safe boxes.
  • Vary routines. Don't stick to the same patterns of coming and going from the premises or leaving at the same time every day.

Staying alert helps avoid making yourself an easy target while travelling.

Overseas holiday rentals can be welcoming and alluring accommodations for many keen travellers. They provide more space, flexibility and amenities than hotels or hostels, even if they come at a slightly higher price on average. By vetting all listings and asking the right questions ahead of your stay, you can stay vigilant and create unforgettable travel memories while being as safe as possible.

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By Dakota Murphey
5th October 2023

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