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FLeisure
07-08-2003, 09:42 AM
In todays Orlando Sentinel there is a feature concerning 25 families who booked with Families First Vacation Homes for last weekend. To cut a long story short, the guests arrived and there was no home for them. Obviously the guests were annoyed and called the Sheriff as they could get no joy out of FF whose office was reportedly closed. This is a timely reminder to folks that things can go wrong......so how to protect yourselves?

As a member of Central Florida Property Managers Association (CFPMA) I am always concerned to read of problems such as these. Member companies of CFPMA strive to abide by a code of ethics and to ensure that an arriving guest has a home that is to the highest standard possible.

Unfortunately some companies don't have the same professional goals and profit is their sole motivation. This is often seen when rates for homes are discounted to appear more appealing to the potential guest. Whilst not wanting to comment specifically on FF methods of business, there are some companies who don't even manage the homes they profess to manage and try to undercut the companies doing the professional job by offering ridiculously discounted rates. Sometimes, as a result of this, we see guests with no place to stay as these unscrupulous companies overbook the somewhat limited homes they have.

Further, some companies don't even take a deposit from the guest. Not surprisingly the guest arrives only to find there is no home !

The vacation home industry is unique. Nowhere else in Florida has homes in such a location. Nowhere else do you find the type of accommodation offered here at such a price. Homes with their own private pools can go from just $99 per night, just try finding a hotel offering the same accommodations for the price.

For guests, there are golden rules to follow when booking a home.

1. Check the credentials of the company you want to book with with Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and CFPMA.
2. Ensure that you are given a home address so you know the actual home you are staying in rather than a home upon arrival.
3. If possible look at photos of the home on the company's web site. Better still, see if they have video footage...some companies do.
4. Check how long has the company been in business.
5. Check whether the company actually manages the homes or is just a booking agent.
6. If booking directly with the homeowner, check there is a local agent or Management company who looks after the home. Essential if youencounter a problem during your stay.
7. Check the terms of business, what happens with security deposit, when is balance due etc.
8. Check the location of home...is it where you want to be?
9.Check that the home is equipped with everything you require.

Follow the rules and you'll have a great home and a great time....ignore them, at your peril !

martina857
07-08-2003, 11:16 AM
I suspect that this is the kind of thing that will happen to any firm, wether they are members of that organisation or not, if they over-book like hotels do, I guess that at holiday times a large number of company's are doing this and we all run the risk of having no where to stay. Go through the homeowner and at least you know the place will be there when you arrive, just make sure they have a reliable company to look after the place, this can be done by contacting them.

Disney Ella
07-08-2003, 11:17 AM
Great tips, FLeisure! Where did those poor families stay?

FLeisure
07-08-2003, 12:02 PM
martina,
I can assure you that any member of CFPMA who engages in this practise and actually causes this type of thing to happen will quickly have their membership revoked.....and I will be leading the campaign against them!

Further, going through the homeowner is not a guarantee. There are rogue homeowners as well.....I well remember one such guy who needed management services immediately.......he left just as the guests arrived to find the pool wasn't even finished. The UK Trading Standards authorities eventually got him for misleading advertising !

If you follow the rules I laid out above no matter if you book with homeowner or MC then you will be OK.

Disney Ella,
We managed to help one of the families but as for the rest, I have no idea...I'm assuming they stayed in a hotel. The report actually says some gave up and went home so I'm assuming they were families who drove here.

martina857
07-08-2003, 05:01 PM
If I had called the better business bureau last week, what would they have told me about this particular company? And are you saying that there no firms who are with your cfpma that overbook?

All seems like a heck of a lot of trouble, I know lets all go back to staying in a hotel!!

FLeisure
07-08-2003, 05:12 PM
martina,
I really don't understand what point you are trying to make. Just doing one of the things I list above is not enough...a guest should do most of them and then they will make a better and a more informed decision.

Hotels/airlines operate in exactly the same way that FF have done in this case.

CFPMA....if there are any companies that do this, none of them has so far left one guest, let alone 25, without a home to go to. I do know of one company that doesn't take a deposit and therefore leaves itself open to the same type of problem but as many times as I have argued agaisnt this arrangement on this forum, there are always a few folks who like that arrangement. If those folks are left without a house then they really can only blame themselves.

martina857
07-09-2003, 02:10 AM
1

FLeisure
07-09-2003, 04:09 AM
martina,
Just wanted to follow up on the line about BBB.

Fox News have now been running a feature on this episode. Last nights feature in the Families First saga introduced the BBB of Orlando perspective. To make it very simple Fox has got wind that the owner of the business is very well known by the Better Business Bureau and has a long history of poor dealings when it comes to STR's. Sad to say what he is doing is legal and he has a history of just closing up and starting over under another name.

Sad to say that this guy has another business doing exactly the same in addition to FF.

Disney area owner
07-09-2003, 10:57 AM
I know of owners who have had dealings with members of CFPMA, not myself, but they certainly would not recommend certain members of this organisation.
It is not regulated by an outside body, you have a group of Management Companies who have formed their own association, so not very independent is it!
I own a villa in the Disney area, and along with a lot of owners, all my bookings are done direct with the renter, it's our home, you receive the address of the property, a name of a contact in the area should there be any problems, and our phone number too.
You are able to see the home, by way of website, video etc,we also know exactly what facilities are at the homes, because we own them, not like MC's who just manage them.
This company is not the first to go belly up, and leave people stranded, and probably won't be the last, as for overbooking, again dealing direct with an owner this will not happen. Some MC's take the bookings then hope they can then get the homes, usually they can, this time they either could not, or did not even try.

lexis53
07-09-2003, 11:51 AM
There is a difference between this post and this post http://disboards.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=402326

One is a very factual account. This post uses this incident in an attempt to not only promote the posters business, but also tries to tell others what they should look for. Now the problem here is some of these "tips" are not necessary. They are something that the poster uses to sell his properties.

There are many places to get a home or condo--Many reputable places. I guess I find this post disturbing since it helps to inadvertantly promote the business. With the spam I received, I consider this to be rude.

For people who have never rented a home, I have rented several directly through the owner. I have rented in Sandestin, Destin, NC, SC, and Tahoe. I have always gone through the owner directly. This is how they pay their mortgage and a source of income. I have had nothing but positive experiences as a RENTER and not an OWNER.

I fear that people who come on this site will read this and think that they shouldn't trust reputable companies and homeowners because they are not members of an unregulated association. There is no binding agreement for any member of this organization to solve any problems. BBB is the same way. You can provide contact info to BBB. You can join some of their programs like the BBB CARE program. You still are not guaranteed.

My solution? I go by accounts on places like here. But I lend no credence to any post by someone selling the same services.
It is safe to rent a house. It is safe to rent a condo. It is safe to reserve a hotel room. It is safe if you go in with your eyes open. There are so many options that people have used here. Don't take all these tips as gospel. And know what an association really is.

MTCW take it for what it is ;)

FLeisure
07-09-2003, 12:17 PM
Lexis,
I think you are getting the wrong end of the stick here.......OK, you can knock my tips if you like.....now come up with some alternative suggestions to protect yourself when renting a home ? I'm all ears.

Disney Area Owner,
Of course all owners are honest and decent people as well aren't they ? That's the solution. Until the guest arrives to find the house has been foreclosed on, there's no electric, etc etc. :(
And then who gets the job of cleaning it all up......yes, you guessed !

Now then, moving onto your assessment of CFPMA. A totally inaccurate one. Lets deal with the facts....not that they ever got in the way of a nice story before....

CFPMA is a body that was set up a few years ago to address the Short Term Rental vacation homes business. The members all agree to abide by a code of ethics and to run their businesses in the interests of the general public. Members who violate this will be expelled from the organisation.

Now let me give you the alternative................oh.....there isn't one!

Whilst it is very easy to knock something, it isn't easy to come up with a viable alternative. I fully realise that CFPMA isn't the answer to everything but it is one body that can legitimately help people when a problem comes up. Any member of the public can make a formal complaint to the association and this will be attended to promptly.

I am not saying this is the answer to the problems but it is a start and as yet, the politicians and the DBPR don't seem to want to know.

My recommendations should not be taken singularly.....but when all coupled together it can make the job a lot easier. There are many many homes out there and families have great times when they stay in the homes. problems are few and far between but when they do happen, they do get blown up !

Lakul
07-09-2003, 04:25 PM
You really don't help the private owners cause, do you. You run us down at every opportunity and it really is getting very annoying :(

I know you want people to book with you, but please give it a rest:mad:

FLeisure
07-09-2003, 04:32 PM
Lakul,

Absolutely wrong.

All I did was point out there are dangers in renting from owners as well. The vast majority of owners, as per management companies, are decent and honest people but there are still some who aren't.

Nowhere in my post did I lay reference to my company. I made reference to 44 companies who are members of CFPMA. All of these companies help to fill the houses of ......private homeowners.

If you cared as much about the interests of the industry as a whole rather than your own private needs then you wouldn't have made the post you just made.

Frankly, I don't care who people book with as long as they get what they are paying for, enjoy themselves and want to return sometime in the future.

lexis53
07-09-2003, 04:51 PM
Actually if you cared about your industry, you wouldn't make offhand comments about homeowners, skyauction or send this PM

Rental homes
Lexis,
Try and concentrate on booking a home where they let you see it first. Don't book something on price alone.

Example is our web site ************************ where we include pictures and videos of the actual home you will be staying in.

If MC's /Owners won't give you this, then move on.

best of luck with your search
FLeisure


My post asked which area of orlando to look at for homes. This PM was unsolicited and sent via PM because you could not promote your site in the thread. Oh wait. You cannot send this unsolicited attempt to promote your company via PM either.

I am glad I am not the only one who has found this post to be a clever way to promote your company.

The association provides absolutely NO protection for renters. The association provides no guarantee so I do not see how this association means anything.

Your tips:

For guests, there are golden rules to follow when booking a home.

1. Check the credentials of the company you want to book with with Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and CFPMA.

Do you notice the "and" before the CFPMA?


2. Ensure that you are given a home address so you know the actual home you are staying in rather than a home upon arrival.

Easily accomplished with someone who is not a member of CFPMA when you deal with the homeowner or many other non-member companies.


3. If possible look at photos of the home on the company's web site. Better still, see if they have video footage...some companies do.

I think this is obvious. It is one good tip. And this tip shows basic common sense. I have yet to see a homeowner or company that has failed to offer pictures.


4. Check how long has the company been in business.

Some homes were built in the last 2-3 years. That once again assumes that a reputable person or company (that is the only word you use, company) would be renting the house longer. I have rented brand new homes from reputable people.


5. Check whether the company actually manages the homes or is just a booking agent.

That is a valid point. However, we are assuming that only companies are reputable. No mention of individual owner. Convenient?


6. If booking directly with the homeowner, check there is a local agent or Management company who looks after the home. Essential if youencounter a problem during your stay.

In resort areas, this is not usually a problem. Many owners who only have one home provide the number for any emergency.


7. Check the terms of business, what happens with security deposit, when is balance due etc.

That is spelled out in rental agreements which should always be utilised. I have not rented anywhere yet that has not required an agreement with everything spelled out for both parties' protection.


8. Check the location of home...is it where you want to be?

Now we are just assuming these people are without basic brains. But then again, I asked and got your PM.


9.Check that the home is equipped with everything you require.


Just like #8, this question is asked no matter what you rent anywhere you go.



I have watched these posts since I started researching this trip and must say that you really skirt the fine line between self-promotion and being helpful. The PM was just spam. No fine line there.

SimonV
07-09-2003, 05:02 PM
This discussion is just going in ever decreasing circle, folks, and it serves no useful purpose any further, IMHO. Therefore I am closing the thread and hope this debate can be put aside for now. Valid points have been raised and answered, and that is enough for now. When specific comments address pecific questions on other threads, that is fine, but we are getting off topic again here.

Thanks for your understanding.

Simon