Tips to keep your vacation rental from going wrong in Medellin

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Smart money and smart people are moving from hotels and motels into vacation rentals all over Medellin. Vacation rentals are often great deals, you’re typically getting a lot more space per dollar than in conventional hotel rooms, plus rentals are often in great locations and usually have kitchen facilities that let you cut the cost of some meals.

On top of that, they’re great for accommodating large families or groups that want to vacation together. What’s more, a well-researched vacation rental can serve as a real location for everyone to congregate, as opposed to the crowded hotel room where you’re constantly seeking to escape to somewhere more comfortable.

Not that you have to look far, to find comfortable places to go in Medellin…

Cooking meals and playing board games serve as great filler activities which also achieve the primary aim for many vacationers–to spend quality time with the people they’re traveling with. However, vacation rentals also have a certain bad reputation, and entail certain risks which we are ready to help you completely avoid.

If you’re keen to get down to Medellin, and at the same time, enjoy the benefits of vacation rentals, we’ve put together a must-have list of the most important things to know before you hop in the plane on your way to see us here in Colombia.

Be Aware

The biggest complaint coming from unsatisfied renters comes when you encounter a serious misrepresentation: suppose your property is unclean, or uninhabitable or even a place that is already occupied by someone else! (This one happens all the time, on Craigslist. You have been warned.) In such a case, you may not be able to contact the owner for a refund and your entire payment is potentially a total loss. There are a vast number of ways you can guard yourself against this headache, and we’ll cover a lot of them below.

Minor issues can also become major headaches too: sometimes rosy descriptions like “just steps” to the nightlife district can turn out to be miles away, or that “third bedroom” that   sounded so nice to put the new born baby in is actually part of the kitchen, a disaster for everyone’s sleeping patterns. On-site issues can drive you batty too, such as backed-up toilets, busted Wi-Fi, bad neighbors, funky smells or noisy AC units, when there’s nobody to fix the problem, or even worse, no one to complain to about it.

Vacation renters almost always pay in full, in advance, often months before you travel, so whoever has the money has a big advantage. If you encounter payment problems, especially with a foreign owner or an agency, there is often little legal recourse or way to obtain a satisfactory resolution. This being the case, due diligence is the best way we know of to mitigate the risk before you commit to a rental deal.

Here you can book a vacation rental, totally risk free in the best parts of Medellin, and pay for your booking 48 hours after you arrive!

Check it Out in Advance

Looking for the least risky way to arrange a vacation rental? Ideally, you’ll check it out, personally, before you make any commitment. That means visiting the destination, in advance, and personally inspecting the unit, verifying claims about location, facilities, views, and such, and otherwise assuring yourself that it is exactly what you want.

Depending on circumstances, you can sometimes arrive just a day or two early and do this. Or you can visit a destination and scope out rental properties, then go back and rent on a second visit. Also, you can usually rely on recommendations from friends and relatives. These are the ideal options, naturally, but if you’re like a lot of our readers, you’re used to traveling afar, and taking more risk. This is where the rewards are, and you will simply employ some expert level tactics to overcome these small boondoggles.

The approach above virtually limits all the risk; but, obviously, it’s impractical for most people coming to Medellin (unless it’s not your first time), but if you are willing to connect with people online, you can get some extra input from reviewers that they may not have wanted to post publicly.

“Curated” properties are a Good Bet

Beyond the solution of renting a place you’ve visited previously or personally checked out, the best way to minimize risk here in town is by renting through an agency that manages a “curated” list of units. These agencies offer only rentals that staff or representatives have personally vetted, and they act as true agencies, not just bulletin boards, with a contractual responsibility to you as a renter.

View curated vacation rentals in Medellin, Colombia right here.

Agencies handling curated rentals typically specialize in limited regions—El Poblado, the foreigner district, for example—and offer a limited number of rentals in each location. They also generally specialize in more upscale properties. Rather than well-worn furniture, shabby beds and sheets with sketchy stains, you’re likely to experience some truly high-end luxury amenities when you go this route. And they aren’t necessarily much more expensive, either. That said, their prices tend to be higher than rates on websites that just list rentals submitted by property owners, however you will get more for your buck, and when traveling to enjoy a low cost of living such as it is in Medellin, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Managed Properties

Lots of vacation rentals are individual units in large condos or residential complexes, and many such are managed by well-known major hotel chains or local on-site management companies. Typically, these units are well maintained, and a resident manager is available to handle problems that might occur during your visit. Unless you encounter some initial glitch in the rental process, you can be reasonably sure that the property was represented accurately and that someone will be around if you have some kind of mechanical problem.

See a few luxury managed properties in Medellin, Colombia right here.

Seek a Travel Agent

If you’re not up to all the footwork yourself, perhaps the best way to go is with a travel agent. Here, you not only have the benefit of experience but you also have an advocate if something goes wrong. Plus, they can handle booking your flights to and from Medellin, along with any other stops you might make, along the way.

Find Protective Insurance

The largest number of rental offerings can be found on the giant “bulletin board” websites that post listings submitted by owners. They cover the entire world, they usually have a much wider selection of properties than the curated-list agencies, and they include lots of budget options. Although they provide some renter protections, they’re not actually party to any rental transactions.

 

The biggest of rental billboards is HomeAway, an umbrella corporation that operates three different North American websites—HomeAway, VRBO, and VacationRentals—plus 11 others in Europe, South America, Asia, and the Pacific, with a combined worldwide list of more than 650,000 rentals. Its optional guarantee (starting at $39) protects against major problems up to $10,000. SmarterTravel’s sister siteFlipKey boasts more than 240,000 vacation-rental listings; its staff verifies all owners and automatically includes evaluations from TripAdvisor.

Pay with Your Credit Card

Pay-with-Your-Credit-Card

Credit card protections, mandated by law, can protect you against some problems. TheFair Credit Billing Act requires credit card issuers to remove a charge from your bill for any product or service that you paid for but did not receive. To take advantage of this “charge-back provision,” you must notify the issuing bank of a problem within 60 days (or 90 days for some banks) of the charge’s first appearance on your statement. Alternatively, you have a full year with a charge by a merchant within 100 miles of your home and within your home state—and an online purchase from your home computer is generally treated as having taken place locally.

But in the case of a vacation rental, a charge-back applies only in the worst cases: fraud, or a rental that is unavailable for some reason. Charge-backs do not cover disappointment or dissatisfaction. Even so, using a credit card at least provides a paper/online trail to pursue if something goes wrong. When possible, go that route, and typically be wary of anyone who is opposed to this common usage path.

Don’t Invite Trouble

If you’re buying online, use your head with advance payments. The basic rule is simple: Never, never pay anyone you don’t trust in cash or via a cash equivalent like PayPal.

The way we stay here in Medellin is certainly changing for the better. As with all developments, there are risks and rewards, so don’t shy away from the game, just use your head and keep your eyes open!

Want to discover the excitement of traveling with an Expert Medellin travel guide? Download the FREE PDF, right here.

Exclusive Bonus: Download our Complete 7 Day Guide to Medellin. Let this be your excuse to practice more Spanish and create some incredible memories

Andrew Campion

This might be my quick "bio" but I want one thing to be crystal clear: this site is all about YOU! It’s my singular mission here at Medellin Lifestyle to report on and create awesome stuff that’s really helpful, insightful, to the point and makes your time (or potential time) in Medellin better. Since 2006 I've been investing in and helping others–from digital nomads to retirees and expats of all stripes–transition here to lead wonderful lives in my favorite city in the world!