There are many holiday rental scams, some simple rules to reduce the risk:
The main warning signs
An extremely low price, an owner who can't be contacted, a substantial discount if you pay in full when you book, payment methods that are unusual in France, different photos for the same property in different adverts, etc.
A price that defies all competition. As with everything, you have to be aware of the value of things. A villa with a private swimming pool, on the edge of the ocean with a view of the sea at €300 a week, all options included, is simply impossible. There's a whale under the pebble!
Before you start, check the market prices for what you want and compare equivalent properties (surface, number of rooms, equipment, services (swimming pool, whirlpool, garden, team..), location.
Bargains do exist on the internet, but an abnormally low price should set off alarm bells!
An unreachable owner. The owner also has a private life; he may be absent or on holiday, but it is extremely rare for him not to be contactable at all. Leave a message asking to be contacted and then, if in doubt, call them back immediately.
An owner who offers you a substantial discount if you pay the rental in full at the time of booking. Danger!!!
A landlord who offers you unusual payment methods in France, for example Western Union, Money Order, Moneygram,...
Different photos for the same property in different adverts, on different websites...you get the impression that it's not the same property to rent...
Simple basic checks will help you make the right choice
- Address of the property to check on Google Maps that it is consistent with what has been offered,
- Contact the tourist office and they will confirm the name of the owner with the address or vice versa,
- Look for the Google listing for the rental property, where you will find reviews (see point below) as well as the address, telephone number, etc.
- Look for reviews left by previous guests on different sites: the owner's site but also Google, Tripadvisor, etc. This will allow you to check the consistency with the advertised services. Many explicit reviews will give you a picture that is close to reality on average.
- Before signing the contract, the lessor, whether professional or not, is obliged to provide the potential lessee with a document containing the contact details of the owner and the agency, as well as a full description of the rented premises (including its geographical location).
Below is a link to the file on the rules of seasonal rental published by the DGCCRF.