Finances & Money

An Easy Way To Protect Yourself Against False Vacation Rental Charges

travel hacks, vacation tips, travel tips

“What are you doing?” asked my wife as she noticed me walking around the rental house snapping pictures, “I want to get going!” It was 6am, and we were trying to get on the road to make the twenty hour drive back home from Florida.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

We had rented a house for the week with some friends of ours and had some issues, although relatively minor, with the vacation rental management company. Something in the back of my head told me to document the state in which we left the home. All the towels had been piled in the laundry room, all the garbage bins had been emptied as had the pantry and the refrigerator. No mess had been left in the kitchen or patio, and the garage had been cleaned out as requested.

All clearly documented via a sequence of over 30 pictures.

As we were preparing to leave, all I could think of was being on one of those television courtroom shows being sued for some kind of damage or leaving a mess, and being asked by the judge, “Do you have a cell phone? Why would you not take pictures?” I’ve heard the questions asked a bazillion times, so I took out my cell phone and took pictures. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten this feeling, and used my camera to document an experience to prove what really happened.

I have no reason to believe that the management company is going to accuse us of anything. However I took the pictures, and then transferred them to a folder stored neatly on my computer as a precautionary measure just in case something would pop up. It would be very difficult to handle the matter given I live across the country from where the property and the management company reside.

Having the pictures would help to prove my case should they accuse me of anything, and protect me from having to pay for damage or cleanup that wasn’t due to my actions.

Do you protect yourself when you rent a condo or home when on vacation? Have you ever been accused of damage you didn’t do?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • When my family and I having a vacation, it’s not a quite problem because we are going to stay in my relative’s house or my husband’s house. I haven’t been ever accused of damage I didn’t do. If that happens, of course I would show them the evidences and the witnesses whom was there to see the reality.

  • Great idea! We were the unfortunate renters who followed bad renters 2 summers ago in Myrtle Beach. I wish I had taken pictures upon arrival, but our displeasure was well documented by the management company. They even had the carpets cleaned while we were there. (They were THAT dirty!)

  • Good idea. We’ve only rented a few places and have never done this. In fact, one place had such dirty tile floors that we bought a mop and left it in much better condition than we found it. Either way it sounds like a good idea.

  • Brock,

    That’s a great idea – you never know when a dishonest person will try to take advantage of you. For something that only takes a minute, it’s well worth you time!

  • @Marie – that certainly helps when you know the person you’re renting from as you would believe they’re honest. But if something DID happen it could be an even more awkward of a situation – so it may actually be even MORE important to take pictures in that case. thanks for your thoughts!

  • @Cathie – Wow, that IS bad! yeah, we did an inspection upon check in – which I should have also mentioned in the post. My wife went around and documented everything she found that was broken, dirty, or not working right and reported it to the management company. That way, it was on record and we wouldn’t be blamed for it!

  • @moneybeagle – Oh, if that happened to us, my wife would have thrown a fit – either someone would have been over immediately cleaning, or they would have discounted our price because of the work we had to do! Thanks for sharing!

  • @moneyahoy – And sometimes it’s not even about dishonesty…it’s simply about what someone *else* did before you. As per above comments, documenting the conditions upon checkin is just as important!

  • This is a great idea. I never rent a vacation house before, but you’re right, better safe than sorry. I’m wondering though, doesn’t the management company check before they accept the new renter in case anything doesn’t work properly?

  • @poorStudent – that’s an excellent question. The way it usually works is that housekeeping notes anything broken or damaged as they clean between renters. The previous renters get hit with the charges. BUT, let’s say the following happened: Renter #1 breaks a closet door, but the housekeepers don’t notice. Renter #2 comes in, uses the place and leaves. Housekeeping comes back in, and then notices the broken door. Guess who gets charged? Renter #2. That’s why you take pictures and document all damage when you check IN. Taking pictures when you check OUT protects you against dishonest housekeepers or management.

  • I think you’re very smart to do that – something we always abide by is “cover your a$$” – or the good, old fashioned CYA. It will help you at some point in the long run, being diligent like that.

    We used to do this any time we moved into any type of rental; we had a lot of longer-term rental companies and landlords try to take our damage deposit for things that were already existing when we moved in.

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