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Your type experience is why I try to rent only from places that accept credit cards for payments. In fact, the Homeaway group, which includes VRBO, is going to be providing credit card payment access to all who list with them, which should make it easier for all VRs to take credit cards. It can be quite expensive for a small business owner to set themselves up as a credit card merchant.

I manage a VR lakefront cottage, that we renovated a couple years ago and began renting at that time. We set up a PayPal account to accept credit card transactions, but the fees are extremely high. I've looked into Costco, HomeAway, and others, but there didn't seem to be any significant cost savings considering the volume and type of transactions being made. I have to admit, I definitely prefer to use my credit card for any transaction as a buyer, but now on the other side of things I have 'seen the light' as to why some small retailers don't accept AmEx, for example. Every percent counts. I now request all our renters pay by check, but if someone insists, or it's within 30 days of the rental, we'll use PayPal to ensure the payment is accepted and processed in a timely manner.

The clean factor can absolutely be an issue as well. Asking the owner questions about who cleans the property can help you separate the clean from the dirty. [...] In owner managed properties, I have found a very strong link between clean properties and significant cleaning fees. Not so much so if the property is managed by a third party.

We add a $75 cleaning fee, non-negotiable. I have considered just increasing the rental fee and eliminating it, since as a consumer I greatly dislike 'add-on' fees like that. And I don't want people to think that means they can abuse the property, which is my firstmost concern above all else, income included. I'm not local, which adds a complication in that I have yet to meet any of our renters. But I was fortunate enough to find a local semi-retired couple who act as our onsite managers/caretakers/cleaners, and they do a fantastic job cleaning and looking after the place for us.

We put down a security deposit and didn't get it back right away even though we left the place in perfect condition (different poster)

Our rental agreement is fairly extensive and thorough, and we clearly state that the Security Deposit will be returned up to 30 days after the rental period. If someone has found a way to run up the cable, phone, Internet bills, or caused damage or missing property that's not immediately discovered, I'd rather have an opportunity to find out before returning the Deposit, which is intended to cover exactly those types of things. That said, I usually return it within a couple weeks, assuming everything appears okay.
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