worshington slept here


This is the sort of question someone usually tweets or puts on their Facebook timeline and begins with “Anyone got any good suggestions…”

You know the drill. But I actually do need to know the general opinion on renting a house online, whether you were landlord or tenant. The usual suspects are HomeAway/VRBO (now owned by the same company), Airbnb, somewhat lesser-known Flipkey, and the original Couchsurfing. All have their strong points, but which ones have any of you used, and which have you liked?

Full disclosure: I’ve rented the farm and barn in the Berkshires for about seven years using one of the sites above. 99% of the time, the renters have been gracious, wonderful, full of compliments, and in some cases, left the house better than when they found it.

However, we had an incident 18 months ago that turned me off renting so wholly, so full-bodiedly, that it has taken me this long to reconsider. I won’t go into all the details, but I’m now well-versed on what a pack of 12-year-olds will write on antique furniture with a permanent marker once they know your daughter’s name. Even now I’m still discovering things that were stolen, or broken for no apparent reason.

So I’m coming at this anew, with a carefully-rebuilt armament of trust… any advice?


this year’s cows have some nice pompadours


9 thoughts on “worshington slept here

  1. Claverack Weekender

    Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
    Have successfully rented via vrbo; it seems like the most “adult” choice in the list above. Can’t bring myself to rent out any of our places as the risk seems too high. Maybe I have trust issues.

  2. Julie

    We have used VRBO without any major issues. Not enough potholders, grilling tools, pots, etc. But you would get those minor issues most anywhere.

  3. Ian

    That particular service pretty much leaves it up to the renter for that sort of thing. We kept the security deposit (the renter didn’t even ask for it), but it barely covered a tiny percentage of what had happened.

  4. Jody

    Sadly it would seem you have to disallow children. We have to call ahead and convince them that our 16 year old is very mellow and calm.

  5. Ron

    I’ve rented other people’s places via AirBnB and have had good experiences. I’ve also racked up a few good reviews of myself as a renter and have since heard from later owners that my reviews helped them feel ok about renting to me. Maybe try renting out via AirBnB and only rent to people with good reviews as tenants? Yeah, this stuff can be faked, but it would take a bit of effort to subvert their system.

  6. Jackie

    We use vrbo a couple of times a year. I have really liked it with one exception. The most expensive rental I I did was when all our kids with assorted SO’s had a week together.
    The house seemed great but there were an amazing number of plumbing issues. Broken pipes, hot tub not functioning etc. we were there a week and every day there was a water issue. And, the owner did all the work himself, a task he didn’t seem particularly good at. And, no reduction in the rental costs.
    However, all of our other rentals have been wonderful with great little surprises. We always choose an out of the way place, well off the beaten track. We don’t care about electronics. We do care about charm in the house and beauty in the setting. And a hot tub if at all possible.

  7. Salem

    One the contributors to the Harvard Negociation Project book said that he started referring to the “owners” (himself; he was the owner and property manager)in the third person. Apparently, saying that the owner wouldn’t allow this or that was much easier to sell. Saying the owner would give hike no choice, made him sound like a much more compassionate rental manager. :) So when you don’t have a third party mediator, you just create one.


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