Online Help for Navigating Private Villa Rentals

Our September issue, Dream of Italy’s Special Report: Villa Rentals II, provided tons of information on renting villas in Italy whether through an agency or a private owner. The New York Times today had a helpful addition to our own information – an article on skirting the pitfalls of private rentals with some mentions of particularly helpful Web sites. After all, when you’re renting directly from an owner, you may have little recourse if something goes wrong or the villa or apartment isn’t what you expected.

Reporter Michelle Higgins recommends considering a professionally managed rental through Web sites like, and “… (They) promise a certain level of quality control since the homeowner pays the management company to inspect the home, clean it and handle any issues that arise —if a pipe bursts, for example, or the air-conditioner suddenly gives out. And most accept credit card payments, which affords an added layer of protection in case the transaction goes sour. But the extra security tends to come at a higher cost,” she writes.

Doing your homework about renters’ past experiences is an essential part of renting from an owner. Higgins tells readers about Vacation Rentals WatchDog. It is a new Web site that lets customers complain about vacation rentals.