Tips and tools for booking private holiday rentals
To report fraud, please call +44 (0)208 827 1971 or contact us here
HomeAway.co.uk is proud to operate one of the most trusted UK holiday rental websites. However, all online marketplaces are vulnerable to people who want to take advantage of others, and our websites are unfortunately no different.
In order to stay ahead of the threat that these people pose, we have introduced some great new trust and security features throughout the HomeAway.co.uk website to ensure you have the best and most secure experience possible.
By using these features and following our suggested best practices, we can work together to safeguard the HomeAway.co.uk marketplace, and you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind when booking a rental from one of our owners or managers.
Please watch our video which includes security advice for holiday rental owners and holidaymakers.
- Booking Tips
First do your research
Check reviews on properties you like to see what previous guests had to say about their experience.
Contact the owners for more information. A phone conversation can go a long way! Just as much as you are curious about the owner, they are curious about you. Engage in a constructive conversation and get to know one another.
How to book securely
Ask for a rental agreement. Having a signed rental agreement between the owner and the guest helps protect both parties. Typically, each owner or manager has their own payment and cancellation policies and house rules.
Call to confirm your payment. Before making any payment, call the owner on the telephone number published on the property listing page to confirm your booking and payment details. If the listing does not have a phone number, please contact us here for assistance.
Safe payment methods when booking and paying with HomeAway.co.uk:
When you pay online for your holiday rental via HomeAway Payments, your payment is automatically covered against internet fraud up to £10,000.
You’ll be paying securely online with Visa, Mastercard, Electron or Carte Bleu credit cards. Credit cards also offer additional charge-back protection should there be an issue with your booking.
Ask the homeowner or property manager if they accept HomeAway Payments when booking your holiday rental. To ensure a safe transaction, we recommend you pay for your rental online with HomeAway Payments.
If an owner does not use HomeAway Payments or doesn't accept credit cards, please ensure you always call the number published on the property listing and confirm your reservation and payment method before proceeding with the payment.
Never pay by cash in advance or instant money transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyCorp. These payment methods are highly susceptible to fraudulent activity and if used you will not be eligible for any of the payment protection guarantees offered by HomeAway.co.uk.
- Best Practices
Follow our booking tips
- Read reviews
- Call the owner to ask questions and confirm your payment
- Request a rental agreement
- Choose a safe payment method
How to handle an issue with an owner or property manager
In the first instance you should speak directly with the owner or manager of the property. If the matter is serious or hasn’t been resolved, please contact our customer support team here.
We take all complaints very seriously and we will do all we can to facilitate an agreeable outcome. However please bear in mind that HomeAway.co.uk is not an agent for any of the properties listed and it is ultimately the owner or manager’s responsibility to ensure their property is accurately represented, as well as deal with any issues or refunds.
How to spot when a property owner or manager has been the victim of online identity theft
At times, our owners and managers will also communicate with holidaymakers through email providers and systems outside of our control. As with many types of internet sites and businesses, these external systems can be vulnerable to online identity theft attacks known as ‘phishing attacks’.
Phishing is the most common form of online identity theft and occurs when a criminal is able to capture an owner or manager’s email password and access their inbox and therefore their messages, which can include booking enquiries from holidaymakers. Once the phisher has control of their email account, they can then pose as the owner or manager and instruct holidaymakers to send money to their accounts rather than those of the real owner or manager. Be wary of owners suddenly requesting large payments which you had not previously agreed to.
The best way to protect yourself is to always call the owner or manager to confirm your payment on the number published on the property listing page. If the listing does not have a phone number, please contact us here for assistance.
How to spot a fraudulent listing
We have a dedicated Trust and Security team who are constantly monitoring our site for fraudulent listings.
You can also safeguard against this by looking out for the following signs:
- Too good to be true deals or significantly lower rates than other similar properties in the area
- Poor grammar and anything else which seems unusual compared to other properties
- Property photos that look too good to be true in relation to the price and location
If you are concerned about any listing on our website, please contact us here.
How to take advantage of the security features of your email account
You can turn on two-step verification to add an extra layer of security to your email account. This means that when someone signs in to your account from a new or unrecognised device, your email provider sends you a text message or calls you with a unique code to verify your credentials. This can help prevent email account hacking.
View instructions below for enabling two-step verification for Google and Yahoo!. If you use another email provider, look for this feature in your security settings.
If you choose not to do this, or your email provider does not offer two-step verification, be very careful with your email password and change it regularly to keep it secure. Additionally, use caution when clicking on links from any email, and always begin an email session from the official log in page of your email provider.
- Protection Products
Carefree Rental Guarantee
While HomeAway.co.uk takes every measure to ensure its properties are accurately advertised, there is unfortunately always a chance the property has been misrepresented or falsely advertised.
For just 2.3% of your holiday rental cost, Europ Assistance‘s Carefree Rental Guarantee provides cover against specific financial losses that may be incurred due to fraudulent activities related to the rental property, including:
- The property is significantly not as advertised
- You are the victim of Internet fraud, including phishing
- Your deposit is wrongfully withheld
Travel Insurance from Europ Assistance
HomeAway.co.uk have also partnered with Europ Assistance to provide a unique travel insurance tailored to holiday rental cover from as little as £21.
Europ Assistance protects non-refundable rental payments up to £5,000 if you have to cancel your trip due to covered reasons. Holiday home rental payments typically become non-refundable 30 to 90 days prior to departure date (the date varies depending on the individual owner or property manager).
Europ Assistance Travel Insurance Benefits:
- Cancellation protection
- Fraud protection
- Listing significantly not as described
- Personal liability
- Medical and dental assistance
- Overseas legal cover
- Baggage loss or theft
- Money and passport loss or theft
- Winter sports option
Enhanced Guarantee when using HomeAway Payments
Benefit from higher levels of payment protection when you pay using HomeAway Payments; your payment will be automatically covered against internet fraud for up to £10,000. Don’t forget to ask the owner or manager if they accept HomeAway Payments when booking your holiday rental.
HomeAway.co.uk Basic Guarantee
- Booking Tips
- Booking Tips
Accepting Online Payments
Nowadays holidaymakers prefer to pay for travel services online. HomeAway.co.uk has made its online payment services even more appealing with an extra layer of payment guarantee. HomeAway Payments covers holidaymakers against internet fraud for up to £10,000. Recommend HomeAway Payments to your holidaymakers so they can book with peace of mind.
Using HomeAway Payments will also help avoid charge-back disputes, as guests have to agree to your rental agreement before paying. Learn more about accepting online payments here.
If you live in a country not currently supported by HomeAway Payments, we strongly recommend you accept credit card payments through PayPal or another merchant account provider so guests can pay securely online.
Holidaymakers should not pay by cash or instant money transfer services such as Western Union or Money Gram. These payment methods are highly susceptible to fraudulent activity and anyone using them will not be eligible for any of the payment protection guarantees offered by HomeAway.co.uk, including the Carefree Rental Guarantee from Europ Assistance.
Property Managers using an integrated software to process payments
Property managers who have an integrated software with HomeAway and accept online bookings on their property adverts, provide secure payment methods for holidaymakers. Guests pay securely online via credit card through HomeAway to the property manager’s integrated software. These transactions are 100% guaranteed against internet fraud up to £10,000.
Property Managers using HomeAway Payments
Property managers who use HomeAway Payments in lieu of an integrated software also provide guests a secure way to pay online for a holiday rental. When a property manager sends a payment request via HomeAway Payments, holidaymakers can pay securely online via a credit card. Guest payments made through HomeAway Payments are 100% guaranteed against internet fraud up to £10,000.
Speaking with potential guests before confirming their reservations not only allows you to learn more about them and answer any questions they may have, it also enables them to confirm the booking and payment details, which can help protect both of you against online fraud - please read our online guide about Phishing to find out more.
Make sure the phone number on your listing is accurate. We recommend getting back to guests within 24 hours of receiving their enquiry.
To promote security, we encourage guests to contact owners or managers to confirm their booking and payment details before making any payment. Expect a phone call from your potential guests for every booking.
Rental agreements do more than define the legal relationship between you and your guests, they can help you communicate exactly how you wish your home to be treated, and clarify your expectations with the potential guest. We strongly encourage you to use a rental agreement for each guest booking. If you set up your account to accept online bookings and payments, we will ask guests to accept your agreement before confirming their booking.
Be sure to include the following in your rental agreement:
- Names of all parties
- Check-in and check-out dates
- Rental amounts
- Payment schedules
- Cancellation and refund policies
- Any house rules and policies around cleaning fees, pets and smoking
You can download a holiday rental sample contract here
- Best Practices
How to avoid online identity theft
Identity theft and phishing attacks can occur when a scammer sets up a fake website or email that looks like either HomeAway.co.uk or your email provider, and which tricks you in to giving away your username and password so they can gain access to your account. If you receive a suspicious email from either HomeAway.co.uk or your email provider, or are directed to a link to confirm your log-in details, do not click on these links or reply.
How to identify a suspicious email:
- Doesn't include normal brand heading
- Contains typos and errors
- Asks you to confirm personal information (e.g. telling you there has been a system fault and you need to reconfirm)
- Email sender address might look strange (e.g. contains numbers)
If you receive an email or message asking you to re-enter your username and password for ANY online account you hold, close that window and sign into the account via the provider’s website.
To access your owner dashboard on HomeAway.co.uk, log in ONLY via the Owner Login page on the HomeAway.co.uk official website. You will find a link to this on our homepage.
If you have the slightest suspicions about any emails you receive from HomeAway.co.uk, please contact us here immediately.
What to do if someone is posing as you
If a holidaymaker has been communicating with someone else about your property or even paid them, most likely your email or HomeAway.co.uk account has been compromised. These incidents should be reported to HomeAway.co.uk immediately.
We can assist you in taking the necessary steps to secure your account and protect future holidaymakers.
What to do if you spot a scam or spam enquiry
HomeAway.co.uk has invested in trust and security technology to detect spam and scam enquiries but even so, occasionally sophisticated spam attempts get past our filters. When you receive a scam email, please let us know and we’ll implement new rules to identify them.
Read our online guide about Booking Enquiry Scams here
How do I protect myself against credit card phone scams?
By adhering to the following best practices, you can help protect yourself against credit card scams conducted over the phone.
- The best way to avoid falling victim to a credit card scam conducted over the phone is to only give your credit card information to a trusted party.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from HomeAway.co.uk and asking for your credit card details, please check the following to make sure you are speaking with a HomeAway.co.uk representative:
- If you are a new advertiser that has attempted to register with HomeAway.co.uk online but has not finished the registration process – Our Sales team will confirm the exact date and time when you registered on the website when they introduce themselves. If the person on the phone is not able to confirm these details, please do not share your credit card details and instead just hang up, wait a few minutes for the line to clear, and then call our Customer Service on +44 (0)208 827 1971 to confirm whether a HomeAway.co.uk representative called you.
- If you are an existing owner renewing a subscription - Our Sales team will always ask you to confirm your security questions before proceeding with the payment. If the person on the phone is not able to confirm your security questions, please do not share your credit card details and instead just hang up, wait a few minutes for the line to clear, and then call our Customer Service on +44 (0)208 827 1971 to confirm whether a HomeAway.co.uk representative called you.
- Review your credit card charges frequently. If you do not recognise a charge on your statement, contact your bank or credit card provider to take action against further charges.
If you think you have already given your credit card information to a scammer, contact your bank right away. Review your charges and dispute any unauthorised charges. Request a new credit card number.
How to take advantage of Two Step Verification for your personal email account
We have numerous security features in place to keep your HomeAway.co.uk accounts secure but we do not have control over the security procedures of your email provider. Two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your email account. When you sign in from a new or unrecognised device, your email provider sends you a text message or calls you with a unique code to verify your credentials. View instructions below for enabling two-step verification for Yahoo! and Google. If you have another provider, look for it in your security settings.
If you choose not to do this, or your email provider does not offer two-step verification, be extremely careful with your email password and change it regularly to keep it secure. Additionally, use caution when clicking on links from any email, and always begin an email session from the official login page of your email provider.
How to keep your email account password safe
You can help keep your personal email account secure by using strong passwords containing both letters and numbers, and by updating them every few months. And NEVER use the same passwords across multiple accounts.
Read our online guide about Phishing here.
- Communicating Securely - New!
Here at HomeAway.co.uk we work hard to create a secure marketplace for the holiday rental industry. That means staying on top of the latest scams, which criminals are using to access private information and providing solutions to help protect owners from being targeted. Phishing is a serious problem on the internet in general and is a particular threat to holiday rental owners.
What is “Phishing”?
Phishing is a common form of online identity theft, and it occurs when a criminal is able to capture someone's email address and password and access their inbox. Criminals are then able to intercept enquiries from holidaymakers and request reservation payments without their knowledge. Holidaymakers can lose money and owners and property managers can lose bookings.
What is HomeAway.co.uk doing to help?
Messages from holidaymakers and your responses to those messages go through our private system. This helps protect you and your potential guests from phishing and identity theft by removing any mention of your email address in the communication.*
Your enquiries and responses to those enquiries come from an anonymous HomeAway.co.uk address (email@example.com).
You can still email back and forth with your guests from your personal email account or from your owner dashboard. Your email address is removed from these messages to protect you from phishers who send enquiries just to get a response from you, at which time they “steal” the email address and start communicating with holidaymakers in an attempt to have them send payments.
In order to see the holidaymaker’s email address you need to visit the "Enquiries" tab within your HomeAway.co.uk dashboard. In your dashboard, you also have the added bonus of being able to review conversation histories between you and your guests.
*This feature is not yet available to all customers, but it will be soon. We will keep you informed.
What happens if I don’t use HomeAway.co.uk’s system for communicating with guests?
We do not recommend sharing your email address with holidaymakers, as the conversation will no longer be protected. If you copy and paste the email address into a new email using your email provider, any online criminal who has phished your account can see it and begin to intercept communications.
Is it more secure if I use my HomeAway.co.uk dashboard?
All communications in your dashboard are more secure because they are behind a login. It’s also fine to use your personal email, as long as the email enquiries and responses have come through our secure system and have an anonymous email address.
Will HomeAway.co.uk be monitoring my conversations?
HomeAway.co.uk uses technology similar to spam filtering to monitor for suspicious patterns, viruses, malicious software and spam to help reduce phishing and spam enquiries but it is not reading your communication.
If you are suspicious of an enquiry you’ve received, please call +44 (0) 208 827 1971, Monday - Thursday 08:00 - 19:00 GMT, Friday 08:00 - 18:00 GMT and Saturday 09:30 - 17:00 GMT to report your concern.
- Additional Resources
Reviews matter to holidaymakers and will help you gain trust and credibility; be sure to request a review from each and every guest who stays with you.
Advantages of having reviews:
- Holidaymakers look for them: Reviews from past guests give them confidence when booking your holiday rental.
- Reviews aid in establishing trust and credibility: A holiday is a big purchase for the average family. Prospective renters want to read reviews of your home from past guests to reassure them that the home is accurately depicted. Build trust with potential renters by getting past guests to write reviews of their stay at your home. We also encourage you to respond to less-than-positive reviews so that you can help other potential renters put the review into context.
- Every rental is different: Reviews are even more important for holiday rentals because the holidaymaker isn't considering two or three brand name hotels; they're comparing unique homes owned by individual owners.
Our online Help Center is available 24/7. If you need to get in touch with us, you can contact our customer support team. We welcome contact by phone on 0208 827 1971 or using our online contact form here.
Normal Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday 08:00 - 19:00
Friday 08:00 - 18:00
Saturday 09:30 - 17:00
- Booking Tips