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Have you ever rented an apartment that you couldn't find reviews of?

Have you ever rented an apartment that you couldn't find reviews of?

Jan 7th, 2005, 06:01 AM
  #1  
SRS
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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Have you ever rented an apartment that you couldn't find reviews of?

Hi Everyone,

My title pretty much sums up my question - have you ever rented an apartment that you were unable to find reviews of? How did it go?

If you haven't, would you?

I have two lines of thought on this, but wanted to more opinions. On the one hand, perhaps the apartment is just new and so there are no reviews to be had. It could be a real gem. On the other hand, there are lots of great reviews of successful places so why try one that no one has spoken of.

The reason for my question is relatively simple. As some of you may know if you've followed one of my other posts, I found a pretty good looking place in Venice, but I can't find any feedback on it.

Here's the link:
http://www.veniceby.com/yourhomeinve...es/profile.htm

I contacted the owner and the price is right - 100,00 euro a night for a week plus a cleaning fee of 40,00.

It looks like an amazing deal, but perhaps I am wrong. I've never rented an apartment before and I've read good and bad here.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks again!
Sally
SRS is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 06:05 AM
  #2  
 
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Well despite hours and hours of looking and checking references and recomendations, I ended up renting an apartment in London via Farnum & Christ without any recommendations or really even checking out the agency. I just saw a lot of pictures, knew the location, and went with gut instinct. I liked it so much I've rented in 9 times since!

Two years ago I rented a flat in Paris --www.sant.com which is strictly directly through a US owner. I never saw any recommendations and didn't check out the owner either. Again it was gut instinct. We rented it two years in a row.

Patrick is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 06:08 AM
  #3  
SRS
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Thanks Patrick.

I was hoping you'd respond as you seem to have good taste in apartments - I often think the ones you've talked about here look good.

Any gut impression here? To me, the place looks great - in fact, it looks brand new, right down to the washing machine. What do you think?
SRS is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 06:10 AM
  #4  
 
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If you limit yourself to only apartments for which you've seen some reviews, then you are eliminating many, many great finds that are in perfect locations for a great price. Same goes for hotels.
Castleton is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 06:15 AM
  #5  
 
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I've rented numerous apartments and haven't found reviews on any of them. I've loved every one.

Additionally, I've made many rentals through italyby.com and have always been very impressed.

I wouldn't rent an apartment without seeing a few pictures and checking out the location on the map, but finding reviews aren't important to me. Many travellers prefer the services they receive at hotels and don't ever try the self catering route!
beanweb24 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 06:33 AM
  #6  
 
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i have an apt. rented in paris this spring that i know nothing about. hoping for the best!

besides knowing the location, and pictures, i also noted that the (paris) apt. has been very regularly booked - for at least a year or two. if there was a problem with it, i don't think that would be the case.

maybe the owner would give you a reference?

melissa19 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 06:48 AM
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I don't put a lot of faith in reviews.

For one thing, you don't really know the reviewer, so you don't know if they are over-fastidious or slovenly.

For another thing, the review is, by definition, dated. There is a posting here by a person who was offended by a couch that had been placed in an apartment. Assuming her evaluation is accurate, I would think that the owner, knowing that her post is here, would remove the offending couch. If someone reports an apartment was buggy, perhaps that is a seasonal thing and everywhere was buggy, or perhaps an exterminator has been called in, or perhaps it remains buggy. Perhaps I am embarrassed about taking an apartment where the toilet room was so small that you had to open the door to arise from the toilet, so I leave that out of my review, or just don't write a review. Even neighborhoods can change rapidly.

I would be more inclined to rely on a review of the rental agency, but again, often our difficulties with rental agents, or waiters, or taxi drivers, are caused by something temporary, or even by out own attitudes.

I looked at the web site you cited, and the apartments look nice, and I think that is a relatively convenient area, so to me it looks like a good deal. I noted that they allow rentals as short as three days with no variation in price. That is abnormal. Usually you pay a premium for a stay less than a week. Perhaps you should contact them and see if you can get a deal if you are staying longer.

Wherever you decide to stay, enjoy Venice.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 07:16 AM
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I had a similar dilemma recently. I wanted to rent an apartment that did not have reviews from an agency that did not have reviews. I did post a question on slowtrav.com but nobody there had used the agency or the apartment. So what I did was contact the agency and ask for references. They were happy to have some former tenants email me their experiences.

It worked fine. By the return addresses I could tell that the emails were authentic. The references took the time to fully descrive their experiences and they were also frank about the plusses and minuses.

As a result, the rental experience was exactly what I expected. By the way, the apartment was in Rome... the "Luce A" apartment in the Trastevere and the agency website was www.RomeAccom.com
sforza is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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I've read countless reviews in researching apartment possibilities in several cities but, like Patrick, have relied on instinct when closing the deal and have not been disappointed. Your Venice place looks fine, and the rate is quite appealing. I've bookmarked it for future reference, will loook forward to hearing about your experience if you do rent it.
Seamus is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 07:26 AM
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One more thing - just noticed that the posted prices are per person, not per apartment, and while there is A/C there is no phone.
Seamus is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 07:28 AM
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I rented an apt in Paris without reviews and loved it. Would need to have a comfort level with the agency, tho. Would contact them and ask a few questions. Tell them what you are looking for in an apt and ask their opinion as to whether the one you like fits the bill. If they respond indifferently, or not at all, that's a red flag. There are agencies that will really work with you to find what you are looking for, in price, style and location.
LAwoman is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 07:37 AM
  #12  
SRS
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Thank you all for the replies! We are leaning towards renting it, but are awaiting a few more answers from the owner.

Seamus, The owner said that it would be 100 euro a night total for the two of us plus the cleaning fee of 40 euro. I have, of course, written back to reconfirm my understanding.

Should the no-phone thing be disconcerting? Typically in Italy we get a PIN card and then use that to dial out. I've always used the hotel's phones to dial the 800 number, but I assume there are pay-phones that take pin cards. Is this a correct assumption.
SRS is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 07:43 AM
  #13  
 
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Sally, we rented an apartment in Florence w/o reviews and were quite satisfied. I think it all depends on how comfortable you feel in correspondence with the owner and how efficient they are in replies, info, etc. I typically like to have reviews, but also feel that it's fine to go with your gut sometimes.

Sorry I can't answer the phone question since all of our apartments have always had telephones.
Statia is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 08:35 AM
  #14  
 
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Yes. We have rented once in Italy, once in Ireland and in April we will be renting twice in Portugal.
Not daunted enough not to take a chance.

The location matters very much to us. I have also had pictures of all of the places, but no reviews.
Sher is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 09:28 AM
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Sally, what did the agency/owner say about the view from the windows?
shellio is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 09:58 AM
  #16  
SRS
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Shellio,

I posted it on the other thread. I will top it for you...

Sally
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Jan 7th, 2005, 10:12 AM
  #17  
 
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I've not familiar with Italy websites, but I have rented Parisian vacation apts without reviews. I've never seen any apartment reviews, so think that is pretty unusual to find any. The only ones I've seen were ones posted on the owner's website, so while I read them, I know they aren't going to post negative ones.

On the other hand, I've never rented from an unknown agency, I do read reviews of the agency in various places (newsletters, guidebooks, online). I don't think I"d be comfortable renting from an unknown individual owner as many others do, but that's just personal comfort level (as well as possible services, offices, staffing, etc, which are part of the reason). I only rent from French agencies and agencies with an office in Paris.
Christina is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 10:49 AM
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Sally, I've already responded on your other thread about this apartment suggesting you go ahead and do it and let us know the results. Yes, my gut instinct for it is good, although the biggest drawback to me is being ground floor. Maybe not a problem, but a little worrisome. I wouldn't like a place on the ground floor that faced the street so you had to keep the blinds or draperies pulled tight all the time. The one on the canal -- maybe not so bad.

I'll also say the reviews don't mean a lot to me. I've looked at hundreds of links of places that people raved about and one look at the pics told me I couldn't stay there overnight!

To be honest, I think I almost feel safer with renting from an individual owner as I do an agency, although of course either can be good or bad. I feel that an agency is even more likely to fall down on their job than an owner who has more personal interest in it and is more likely to want to please.

I recently posted my own ad on Craig's list looking for an NYC apartment sublet in May or June for a month and was contacted by owners offering theirs while they're traveling. After several emails and a dozen pictures, and since I actually know the building it's in, I feel pretty confident renting from them. Compared to what I was finding with agencies, it definitely looks much nicer at about half the price of similar ones with agencies.
Patrick is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 10:50 AM
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I seldom even look for reviews. I've even rented flats w/o knowing the address (one agency I use doesn't assign specific flats until you arrive. Then if a renter decides to extend at the last minute or a problem arises w/ a flat they can put you into another one easily.)

Now, hotels are a different matter. But villas, cottages, apartments -- these are usually one-off's and the chances of someone having stayed there recently are pretty remote.

People often get on Fodors and moan that some self catering place doesn't have any reviews on tripadvisor or some such. Well if it is a VERY popular cottage, only 40 to 50 families (from all over the world) will have stayed there in any given year - not the hundreds or thousands that have stayed in even a small hotel.
janis is offline  
Jan 8th, 2005, 02:19 AM
  #20  
 
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Yes. We rented an apartment in Florence from rentvillas.com in 2000. Did it at the last minute without benefit of reviews. (I didn't know about helpful websites like this at the time.) It was in the heart of town about a block from the Ponte Vecchio, and was fine.
57BelAir is offline  

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