When you’re going on vacation, renting a house, like vacation home rentals near the HI volcano, can be a great alternative to staying in a motel or hotel. You’ll get more space, more privacy, and a homier atmosphere while still being close to the attractions and sites that you came to see. However, renting a vacation home can be a bit more difficult than reserving a hotel room. Here are some tips to help you find and rent the perfect vacation home for you.

Start Looking Early

Even in a tourist-heavy area, there aren’t going to be as many vacation homes available for rent as there are hotel rooms. They go fast, especially if you’re looking for a house on the beach or some other scenic spot.

You can’t start looking too early. For the best selection of homes to choose from, plan on beginning your search for a rental several months before your planned vacation.

Clarify What’s Included

It’s easy to get excited over finding just the right vacation home in just the right location and forget to clarify the details that are in the fine print. That can hurt later when you’re charged for something that you weren’t expecting to pay or when you don’t have access to something you thought was included.

In addition to utilities, like electric and gas, be sure to ask if amenities like cable, internet, and phone service are included in the rental price, or if you’ll need to pay extra for them. Housecleaning is another important feature to ask about. The homeowner may hire a service to clean up on the day you leave or periodically during your stay, or they may leave it to you to clean up after yourself or hire your own service. Either way, you need to know if you’ll be charged extra for cleaning services.

Take Pictures

Before you accept the keys and let the landlord leave on the first day, walk through the house, preferably with the homeowner, and take pictures or video of all of the different rooms of the house, paying special attention to any problem areas. Make sure that the pictures or videos are stamped with the date. This way, you’ll have a record of what everything looked like before your stay, and you can’t be blamed for anything that was damaged before you took possession of the place.

It’s a good idea to do the same thing on the day that you leave the vacation home. Walk through with the owner and take pictures of everything that you took pictures of the first time. This protects you from any chance of the homeowner unfairly keeping your deposit or filing damage claims.

Local real estate agents can often help you secure a vacation rental with a reputable local landlord. If you plan ahead and protect yourself, renting a vacation home doesn’t have to be overly difficult.