On this page:
1. How to Find a Great Paris Apartment.
2. How to Request a Check Out.
3. How to Pay our Modest Fee of $60 per Apartment Visit.
1. How to Find a Great Paris Apartment.
Let's start by being realistic. A great Paris apartment for YOU, is one that meets your most important needs and those of the others in your party, fits within your price range, and perhaps satisfies a few druthers and whims.
A. Minimum Requirements and Priorities. The first thing to do is work out a pretty good idea of your most important needs and your price range. These will become your minimum requirements. Rental prices will be largely a function of location, size, condition, and season. It may be that not
every need can be satisfied within your price range, so some prioritizing will be in order. During the search process, it is to be expected that you'll come across some features you didn't even think about, or cause you to reconsider your priorities.
v Location – If you aren’t familiar with Paris arrondisements, go online or get a Paris guidebook with maps and descriptions of these districts. What kind of neighborhood calls to you? Small shops and crooked streets or large department stores? Centrally located or out near one of the large parks where you can run?
v Size - If you're not used to thinking in terms of square meters, measure some rooms where you presently live, and convert to square meters. How many of you will be sharing? For a relatively short stay, maybe one bedroom and a living/dining room with a fold-out sofa would work for 3 persons, for example. But maybe not if the person on the sofa is a light sleeper and the others would be going in and out to get to the bathroom.
v Season – Many Paris apartment owners lower their rates between November and March, perhaps excluding holidays. Others offer lower rates in August, because that is when they leave town on vacation.
B. Productive Online Searching.
There are a few things that are helpful to understand before you get too far into your online search of websites that list vacation rentals. You need to be able to distinguish those sites that are basically a collection of direct "by owner" listings, from sites run by an agency licensed to rent real estate.
The "by owner" listings may cost less, on average, because agency fees and commissions are not involved. You may find some real bargains, because owners may be more subjective in their pricing and more willing to accept some negotiation if you build up some rapport.
The trade off is that the "by owner" listings are typically not screened or verified by anyone as are the agencies listings, and you probably have more consumer protection when going through an agency. If for some reason you are not happy with the apartment you get, at least you have a professional company to deal with, licensed people to complain to, etc. It's not foolproof, because agencies may not always have your best interests at heart. Also, there are sites that appear to be owned by an agency, but are actually unscreened listings no different from the "by owner" sites. (In either case, my own experience has shown me that there is no substitute for actually checking out the apartment before putting down your deposit - which is what led me to the idea of creating Paris CheckOut!)
C. Search the Web. Explore apartment rental websites, or simply do an internet search for "paris vacation rentals" and you'll get tons! Here is a partial list:
Then there are the big international vacation rental sites, that have listings by country. Some sites have France divided into regions; Paris is in the Ile de France (or Ile-de-France) region of France. Sometimes vacation rentals are referred to as holiday rentals or self-catering rentals.
D. Study the Fine Print
When looking at agency-owned sites, see if they allow you to download and read over a standard Rental Agreement. It's good to familiarize yourself with agreements from several sites, even if you don't end up renting from them, to become better informed, and to spots items that may or may not be covered in the agreement you end up with. Agreements for "by owner" rentals may be very sketchy, or lifted from other sites without much thought. You'll want to especially understand the cancellation terms. What are your financial obligations in the event that you have to interrupt your trip? You probably don't want to be locked into a certain term without some flexibility. Other items to look for and understand:
- Think about your tolerance for stairs - carrying luggage - and ask about an elevator.
- Be sure that it is clear whether there is an additional charge for gas/electricity, or whether utilities, sometimes called "charges" are included.
- If you are counting on having internet access, TV with at least a few channels in English (which usually means CNN and BBC) be sure that's clear. Very often, the apartment will also come with a land line phone with unlimited calls to the US for no extra charge.
- Depending on how much cooking you want to do, ask whether there is an oven or not(sometimes it's just a stove top), and whether there is a microwave.
- Many apartments these days have a washing machine, but dryers are extremely rare. There is usually a drying rack, which works fine in summer. Air conditioning is also very rare - but it doesn't hurt to ask whether there is a fan.
- Be careful about how the final arrangements are made for giving you the keys. Does someone meet you at the apartment or do you have to go to an office and pick them up? What happens if your plane is delayed and you arrive after hours?
- Don't be surprised if agencies and owners ask for the full payment plus cleaning deposit, to confirm the booking. In other words, right away. But if the rental date is for more than three or four months in the future, they may ask for a deposit, and then full payment 30 to 60 days prior to rental.
E. Tips from Other Sources
v eHow - Basic steps (very abbreviated!) on how to go about finding and renting an apartment in Paris. www.ehow.com/how_5069792_rent-vacation-apartment-paris.html
v www.flat-hunter.com – These folks offer a service that takes you every step of the way, mostly for people interested in higher end and luxury apartments, and for six months or several years.
2. How to Request a CheckOut from Paris CheckOut
a) Contact us by email, using the Request CheckOut form. List the websites of the apartments you would like to have checked out. Tell us a little about your concerns and priorities.
b) Either myself or another member of the team will get back to you, and if you would like to discuss by phone, we'll arrange for a time to call you (US or Canada only). Either by phone or by email, we'll go over our checklist and your concerns. At this time, a $5 non-refundable fee per apartment is due, to be applied toward the CheckOut report(s). We will send you an email via PayPal, the largest secure payment processor on the Web, and your submit your credit card information directly to PayPal.
c) It typically takes about 7-10 days to complete one CheckOut, and approximately 2 weeks for two or three CheckOuts, because of the logistics of contacting the apartment owners, property managers, or rental agents and arranging suitable dates and times. They often need to notify current tenants.
d) Immediately upon receipt of payment, we email you the report(s) and photos. There is no additional charge if you would like us to call and discuss our report.
3. How to Pay our Modest Fee of $60 per Apartment Visit
1. After you contact us and request a checkout, we will confirm by email and ask for more information about your apartment needs.
2. You pay a nonrefundable fee of $5 per apartment checkout with a credit card, via PayPal, the most widely used, secure payment processor on the Internet.
3. We will contact you when your reports are ready to be emailed, and PayPal will send you an invoice for the balance of the fees. There is no charge for any apartment that we were unable to see and report on. We will let you know what happened. If an owner is non-cooperative and does not want us to see the apartment, this is good information!
NOTE: There is no additional charge for the initial phone call and the final call, if desired, to discuss the findings, US and Canada only. We are happy to receive calls from other locations, but cannot initiate them.