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What should I look out for when renting a bach or holiday home on the internet?

Prospective holidaymakers should be careful when renting a bach online, as rental listings promoted on the internet can be a popular target for scammers.

Scammers can sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to trick unsuspecting people into giving up personal details or making payments. They may pose as owners or real estate agents and use the actual property address and photographs, often copied from real estate websites, in an effort to convince you they are genuine.

Here are some online renting guidelines to follow to help you avoid being scammed:   
  • Watch out for obvious spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or pixilated photographs – scammers tend to operate from overseas and English may not be their first language.
  • If you don’t live in New Zealand, ask someone you trust to make local enquiries.  There are reputable websites out there.  In general, if a bach renting offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t rely on referrals or recommendations of others, unless you know the source of the referral or recommendation personally.
  • Never pay funds via a bank transfer unless you are sure who the recipient is. Avoid using non-bank payment systems such as Western Union, which scammers are well known to use.  It could be very difficult to ever get your money back from these networks if there are issues.
  • If the owner or agent for the bach lives overseas, this is a warning sign that it could be a scam. Most New Zealand bach owners live in New Zealand.  Ask for local telephone numbers and addresses and have these verified.
  • Search online for reviews of the owner or agent offering the holiday home for rent.  The experiences of others can be very useful indicators.
  • Keep all written correspondence about the holiday home rental, including payment details and a copy of the listing itself.
  • Watch out for holiday homes being advertised at conspicuously cheap rental prices (unless at the last minute). This is a sure sign that the listing is a scam.
  • Never send money in order to be posted keys to a property. You should always be able to pick up the keys personally, or retrieve them from an agent.  Many owners are happy to accept just a deposit up front when you book the accommodation and to receive the remainder when the keys are exchanged.
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