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KevDon Jan 21st, 2010 07:00 AM


My name is Kevin and I am new to the Fodor forums here, I have read plenty of helpful information over the years but have just joined now as I have a question of opinion from all of you travel experts!

I am going to Paris in May (third trip) with my significant other and we have decided to rent an apartment or studio instead of hotel this time. I have never rented a place before like this so it is an all new experience for me. I have done a bit of research and read a lot of information on here on the various apartment threads.

However, I have found myself in an unusual situation! While browsing craig's list adds for Paris vacation rentals I happened upon an add for a studio on the Ile St. Louis for rent by owner on 2nd floor with a toilet, shower and kitchenette. He has provided the address for the studio but after some emailing back and forth I have surmised that this is simply the owner renting out his place unofficially, so to speak.

He is asking only 800 euro for 14 nights! After asking about a rental contract and deposit he told me he does not require a contract OR deposit. Apparently he will reserve the place for us once we buy our airfare and then exchange keys for cash at the apartment when we arrive.

This guy posted the add with four photos of the place, an address (GREAT LOCATION), 400 euro a week no deposit etc. I am wondering what you all think? I have a friend who lives in Paris who is going to check into it a little bit more and call the guy for me. The worst case scenario I am currently imagining is that we arrive and he simply doesn't show up, tries to charge more or whatever. . . but with no deposit involved, I would imagine I am at less financial risk. So maybe I could make the agreement with him but also make backup reservations at a place just in case? I do not know what to do! The price and location almost seem too good to be true, and perhaps I am onto something with that . . .

Any advice?!?


Luisah Jan 21st, 2010 07:09 AM

<<I have a friend who lives in Paris who is going to check into it a little bit more and call the guy for me.>.

I'd hold off until you hear from your friend that he's met the owner and seen the apartment.

tod Jan 21st, 2010 07:43 AM

Hello Kevin and welcome - I'm definitely with Luisah on getting your friend to give it the all OK. Sounds very good, being on the second floor (but that might be the third floor in our lingo) We count Ground, First, Second and so on.
Anyway, it's not to high as I'm sure there will be not lift.

The price seems very good but I hope it can compare to this little darlin' we have found for our August trip. We are paying 700euros for 7 days.
Please can we see pictures of the intended rental? That will give a better way of judging whether it is a good prposition - interior needs to be fairly new and not all old and tatty.

Watching this space......

Michel_Paris Jan 21st, 2010 07:49 AM

I'd hold off. No deposit gives you some 'protection', though showing up, having no place, and finding one could be annoying.

It is a great deal. I love IsL, and from what I have seen appartments seem to go in the 200 euro + this guy is ~25% of the going rate. This is scandalously cheap.

P.S if it works out, let me know his name ;)

janisj Jan 21st, 2010 07:52 AM

A couple of times, I have rented from private owners just on faith w/o a deposit or pre-payment and it worked out fine. Of course that doesn't mean this one is OK.

I am normally very leery of Craig's list, but this guy isn't asking for any money up front. So I really can't see "scam" in big red letters. You have the advantage of having a friend there who can contact the owner directly and maybe see the flat.

Assuming the owner is willing to see your friend - I'd go for it.

StCirq Jan 21st, 2010 07:54 AM

I would have your friend in Paris do more than call the guy. In exchange for a nice lunch or dinner when you're there, I'd ask the friend to make an appointment to visit the apartment and talk to the owner and take notes and photos.

Assuming your friend agrees, email the owner and tell him this is your plan. If he balks at it, I think you can surmise that something's not right.

It IS an amazing price for an apt. in that location, so if it's legit, grab it. If it's not, it could be a real PITA to deal with when you get there.

Good luck.

Celticharper Jan 21st, 2010 08:09 AM

This owner may be able to offer the apartment on his own at a reduced rate because of the high referral fees that the agencies demand.

The owner is not asking for any payment until you see the apartment so he is confident that the apartment is good enough that he believes you will rent it when you see it.

No harm in checking it out, you can always have a hotel reservation you can cancel as back up if it doesn't work out.

Good luck I'm renting in Paris next month from VIP.

Celticharper Jan 21st, 2010 08:12 AM

You can also check the address on Google earth Street view to see what the neighborhood is like that might give you some information that will be helpful to you.

Obviously you wont see the apartment itself but sometime seeing the outside of the building and neighborhood tells you a lot.

StCirq Jan 21st, 2010 08:27 AM

<<sometime seeing the outside of the building and neighborhood tells you a lot.>>

True, but there's not a square foot of space on the Ile-St-Louis that isn't gorgeous.

Celticharper Jan 21st, 2010 08:29 AM

you got me there StCirg :)

Michel_Paris Jan 21st, 2010 08:33 AM

Based on another current thread here...perhaps some references?

If I had this place and renting privately, I'd still charge a lot more...he must be a registered charity :)

Lynnaustin Jan 21st, 2010 08:38 AM

One problem that I see is the loss of a deposit on your back-up reservation for a hotel. Most hotels will charge you at least one night for a same day cancellation.

Celticharper Jan 21st, 2010 08:40 AM

There are some hotels that I was looking at during my search for somewhere to stay during our vacation that would accept a cancelation up until noon of the day of arrival without cost. That's what I had in mind.

KevDon Jan 21st, 2010 08:46 AM

Thanks everyone! You all are more-or-less reaffirming what I already am thinking. . .

I have had back and forth email communication with him and using the address he gave me I did do a search on google maps street view and the address matches the street photo above from the add as well. It is literally at the intersection of "rue saint-louis en l'ile" and "rue des deux ponts"

Aside from the fact that he is not and does not use an agent, I just can't see why it is so cheap! I am afraid to ask, I did ask about details about the toilet situation (in case it was not mentioned to be in the hall or something) and he stated that it has a toilet, washbasin and shower . . . it is on the second US floor, 1st French . . . but last time in Paris I was in a 7th floor (US) walk-up so I am not worried. We are both only 24 anyhow!

If it turns out to be legit I will definitely spread the word on here about him as it is obviously unbelievably affordable considering the location and how all else APPEARS!

Thanks again,


Christina Jan 21st, 2010 08:47 AM

Agencies don't charge that big a fee to make a place 25 pct of the going rate (they charge 25-33%). VRBO doesn't charge any fees for rentals, either, and you don't see many super cheap places on there, regardless.

It does seem weird to me, but I think some private owners do this kind of thing (no reservation deposit) because they don't really care that much and aren't running much of a business. I mean, you couldn't run a business that way if you were counting on rent for income. If this is just some extra income that is nice to have, maybe that's why.

Without photos and other info, though, I wouldn't be one to say 400 euro a week is obviously 25 pct of the going rate. I don't think we even know the size of this place, or did I miss it. That isn't that cheap for a small basic studio from a private owner, even if it is a good location.

I think I found the ad on Craigslist and it gives no photos and no size. It does say it has AC, though, which is amazing for that rate, and cable TV. That ones only rents for 80 euro a night in Jan/Feb, though, so I might be wrong. It is on the 2nd floor, though.

susanna Jan 21st, 2010 08:58 AM

I have rented many apartments. I am always leery about renting some one's personal apartment, one that they live in and are going to move out for me to use.

Have they had it cleaned before my arrival, have they cleared out closets/dressers/ refridgerator. any space that I can call my own, are their personal things everywhere.
These are all things that I don't like about the above situation, maybe you are more laid back than I.
It is an amazing price in an amazing area. If it sounds too good to be true.....

janisj Jan 21st, 2010 09:29 AM

"<i>Have they had it cleaned before my arrival, have they cleared out closets/dressers/ refridgerator. any space that I can call my own, are their personal things everywhere.</i>"

I've rented owners own apartments/cottages several times - in Paris and all over the UK. That has never been a problem. Most owners don't want you in their stuff any more than you want it there. Usually there is either a room or closet that is locked that contains any "private" things. There is never anything in the Fridge unless the owner leaves a hospitality pack.

Usually, these are not full time residences, but just used for family holidays or pied d terres, so there isn't much personal stuff around. There often ARE books/magazines etc which most owners would think their renters appreciate.

Judyrem Jan 21st, 2010 09:37 AM

I hope it works out for you. It is a great deal. I am paying 800 Euro for a 6 night stay on Rue Mazarine.

tod Jan 21st, 2010 10:01 AM

Thanks for the photos - gives a good overall idea what to expect and I think for the price you are going to be very happy there.

At the corner of rue des Deux-Ponts you will see a ruggered old restaurant called Au Franc Pinot which prides itself on its food and long history of boatmen from Melun making their way through it's doors in the 17th century.
When you walk down Rue des Deux-Ponts take note of No.3 - nothing special.....because the beautiful wooden panelling of the old shop that closed down in 1913 was transferred to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where it serves as a background to the 18th century French silverware display.

Another thing you might like to know is that Rue des Deux-Ponts used to run along the old moat that divided the island in two during the 13th century. When it was filled up in the 17th century a narrow street was laid out and lined with elegant houses. This was all ruined in 1930 when it was widened allowing traffic to furrow through the island.
By the late 1960's two drab blocks of flats took over from the former architectural beauty of the previous buildings.

KevDon Jan 21st, 2010 10:18 AM

Christina: This is not the same add you are referring to, 800 divided by fourteen is 57 euro per night! Besides, the add I refer to has photos but does not mention AC. Being from Phoenix, even the "hot" days in Paris summer do not really bother me.

Janisj: He did mention he only lives in the studio a few months of the year. . .

Tod: Thank you for the interesting info! I love this sort of history.

Thanks to everyone again for your well wishes and advice!

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