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Paying Cash on arrival for apartment rentals in Florence?

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Feb 20th, 2012, 03:11 PM
  #1
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Paying Cash on arrival for apartment rentals in Florence?

Is it true that this is customary to pay for the balance of your apartment rental in cash to the agent upon arrival? This seems a little fishy and somewhat dangerous to me.
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Feb 20th, 2012, 03:16 PM
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yes, it's quite normal. we've done it on all of our Italian rentals, except in Venice where the owner was british with a UK bank account so i just sent him a cheque.

why would it be dangerous? you see the apartment, hand over the cash, s/he gives you the keys, and there you are.

i don't remember any threads about this going wrong - other things might, but this part of the booking process seems to work extraordinarily well.
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Feb 20th, 2012, 03:21 PM
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This is very common. I can't remember when we have not done this, except for a couple of places where we paid it all in advance (only to a trusted agency, believe me!). Few apartment owners have credit card capability, and a lot. more business is done in cash in Italy. I think this also ensures that you don't bail out without paying at the end.

If you are just arriving in town and cannot get the total amount from an ATM the first day, most landlords will let you pay some the next day. Contact them in advance if you think it will be a problem.
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Feb 20th, 2012, 03:23 PM
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"This seems a little fishy and somewhat dangerous to me. "

What sounds 'fishy'? Do you expect the owner to wait until you leave? In fact, many owners require full payment 60-90 days before arrival. . .
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Feb 20th, 2012, 03:31 PM
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The only thing "fishy" about such transactions is the question of what, if any, part of that cash payment gets declared on the owner's tax statement. The answer is, "probably none", but that is not any of your business.
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Feb 20th, 2012, 05:14 PM
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What sounds "fishy" in my mind was the fact the transaction was in cash and I being a first time traveler to Italy don't know if they give you a receipt for the 300 Euro security/damage deposit you must pay for the particular apartment we were interested in renting in addition to the balance of the rent. I am used to using a credit card and leaving a paper trail in case there are problems. Plus carrying a large amount of cash with you I think is or could be dangerous. Anyway I asked the question just to make sure this is a common practice (dealing all in cash instead of credit card). I thank you for the info.
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Feb 20th, 2012, 05:17 PM
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Use one or more ATM cards and withdrawals to minimze cash you bring with you
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Feb 20th, 2012, 06:39 PM
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Thanks Michel that's a good idea.
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Feb 20th, 2012, 07:56 PM
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Robin, I usually travel with my adult daughter, and I pay for everything. So, a week before we leave, I usually put at least 25% of my funds in her bank account. That way, if we have issues with my card, we can still get money from her account.

And this, of course, works when the ATM has its' own daily limits and you need more than it can give you.

If you haven't read any other threads about this.. that too is common. Smartest move is to use your ATM card when you get there.. do not exchange your US dollars en masse with your bank or some agency. Big fees, poor exchange rate. The ATM machine is the way to go. (Italian ATM's charge no fees for withdrawal. Only your bank, if they do.)
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Feb 20th, 2012, 08:02 PM
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You don't carry large amounts of cash with you. You do multiple withdrawals from the ATM machine. If you want a paper trail, ask the owner for a receipt. This is a totally normal practice.
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 07:25 PM
  #11
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I have sucessfully reserved an apartment and will use mulitiple atm cards.

@sarge56 love your idea of putting 25% of funds in another account in case more funds are needed because of atm limits! Also thank you for answering so kindly (some people on this site are more abrupt than others).
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 08:04 PM
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Robin, when we traveled to Rome summer before last we also had to pay for our apt. rental in cash when we arrived. You may have already read this in another thread, but be sure to contact your bank in writing and inform them you are traveling to another country. They will want to know the dates and countries you are planning to visit. You may also need to get your daily withdrawal limit increased for the trip.
Also, it's a good idea to have a back up atm/checking account. Bank of America decreased our daily withdrawal limit after the second week of our trip last summer. We were in Italy and couldn't get the money we needed/wanted for our cruise. Fortunately we had another ATM/bank account we could pull money from.
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 08:16 PM
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I think many people don't realize that Italian law has recently changed, and now all cash transactions over 1,000 euros are illegal. A great many Roman rentals fall below this overall limit, so it is not an issue. But if the combination of your deposit + the money you pay when you arrive is over 1,000 euros, you should make arrangements to pay by credit card, or wire transfer.
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 01:29 AM
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I think we may have been a bit harsh on this poster. I have certainly paid cash for rentals in France, though not recently, but all over this forum we tell people not to carry large sums of money, then we turn and say, "What could be dangerous about paying in cash?" We have all read reports of fake rentals in New York where people rent apartments that don't exist. I think caution, not paranoia, is warranted, but Zeppole's note means that Italy may be coming, however painfully, into the same system as the rest of the world.
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 02:26 AM
  #15
 
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Many individuals are on a "cash basis" to cheat on their taxes why Italy is going belly up over time along with Greece. So you are right it is VERY fishy but also the way most do it. Personally stick with agents of quality italyby.com or sleepinitaly.com and pay only with CC/Paypal.

www.booking.com also has great Apt B&B deals very reputable site booking 49% of all Europe bookings according to Priceline's recent quarterly earnings report. Better safe than sorry for me from personal experience over there almost yearly.

Good luck!
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:29 AM
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It is really not so painful in Italy. Credit card transactions were already becoming quite common for apartment rentals in cities. The ban on cash transactions has more to do with things like getting a "discount" on a Prada purse by paying with cash instead of a credit card, and most Italians have actually enjoyed watching the televised police raids on luxury goods stores in high-end tourist resorts where a lot of tax-cheating goes on.

But to avoid pain for non-Italians, tourists need to be aware that they should no longer accept a "discount" on their hotel bill for paying with cash instead of a credit card unless the bill is under 1,000 euros. Likewise, that Prada purse or dinner service for 12 should be put on the credit card. The way the Italian tax system is policed, it is the BUYER who gets hit with a huge fine for trying to evade paying the tax, as well as the seller. Save your receipt that shows you paid the tax.
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 11:01 AM
  #17
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The total for our deposit and the rent of the apartment is under 1000 euros and we will be paying the balance in cash upon arrival. The landlord was on a reputable site and I am comfortable with the arrangements we have made. When I initally posted this question I was considering an apartment on a website that didn't have a Florence street address for contact and there weren't many reviews. It just looked off to me, and that's why I said "it seemed fishy". I sent them an inquiry and they did not recontact me so I was concerned as to whether or not they were legitimate. I'm not stupid (as some people seemed to infer earlier). I just needed to know, from other travelers if this was a "normal" practice, this being my first time in Europe, much less Italy. Now I know. Thank you to those of you who took the time to give me your advice, knowledge and comments.

Now on to more important matters! The atm situation..
Thank you kathy_from_FL for the advice on writing the bank!
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Robin,
ATMs (bancomats) are the easiest and cheapest way to get euro.
Check with your bank to verify your limit is high enough to cover the amount you want, if not, ask them to raise the limit. On joint accounts sometimes the limit is per card not account so two cards could each take out the limit on the same account.
Open another account to increase the amount you can withdraw. It is also a good idea for a backup. Look for the best deal for this new travel account. See http://flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php...reign_Exchange
You want a low(or Zero) foreign transaction fee and a low or zero charge for out of network fees. Italian banks will not charge you for using their bancomats.
On the back of your ATM or debit card you need a Visa - Plus or MasterCard - Cirrus symbol.
The Italian bank ATM may have a transaction limit (the amount you can pull out at one time), usually between 250 and 500 euro, but you can perform multiple transactions until you reach your bank's daily limit.
When you get there ask your apartment owner where is the nearest bancomat? The owner will probably walk you to it so you will not be carrying a lot of cash long.
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Mar 3rd, 2012, 01:42 PM
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We also have an apartment rental in Florence and the owner does not accept credit cards. The school we're attending referred us to this private property, put us in contact with the owner, and supplied much information---I am comfortable with the arrangement. We did a wire transaction to make the 600 euro deposit, and we are expected to pay the balance of 1000 euro in cash when we arrive. According to Zeppole, I am breaking the law by participating in a 1600 euro cash transaction. I'm going to have to take my chances. Same with carrying cash; I'm old-school and have traveled for 40 years with no qualms/problems carrying cash. Last year I tried the "use ATMs" advice for Ireland and France and had much frustration: ATM empty, card rejected(?), machine out of order, over limit, etc. What fits my comfort zone might sound dangerous to someone else but it works for me. When we arrive on that Sunday afternoon, 20 hours after leaving Detroit, I do not want to spend a minute withdrawing cash from ATMs.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 02:34 AM
  #20
 
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When I initally posted this question I was considering an apartment on a website that didn't have a Florence street address for contact and there weren't many reviews. It just looked off to me, and that's why I said "it seemed fishy". I sent them an inquiry and they did not recontact me so I was concerned as to whether or not they were legitimate. I'm not stupid (as some people seemed to infer earlier)>>

not stupid Robin, but perhaps a little mystified about why you were quite so suspicious of the cash transaction. looking at you first post, you omitted the above information, which would have helped us better to understand your query. we can only respond to the information we are given!
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