Originally Posted by walkinwood
You do need to do some checking, but obviously, there is always a risk.
I usually try to speak to the owner and use my intuition. Online searches can reveal the name of the home owner or use a reverse address/phone search. User comments help, but not all properties have them. Google street view can verify that there is a matching property at that address as well as give you a feel for the neighborhood. The cheap Paris apartment may be in a rough neighborhood - look for garbage, boarded up windows, graffiti etc. vrbo.com urges you to use paypal.com or a credit card so you have some recourse in case things don't work out. They also suggest you use a written contract.
I don't know enough about Paris to know if it is rough. It looked ok to me. It was in Chinatown near the Choisy subway stop IIRC. Didn't see any trash or boarded up windows. Lots of Chinese writing and Asian people.
I guess I could call up the owner, but language barriers may prevent my intuition from picking up on scams.
Anyway it looks like a neat way to get a taste of local living at a very cheap price with a little risk.
Retired in 2013 at age 33. Keeping busy reading, blogging, relaxing, gaming, and enjoying the outdoors with my wife and 3 kids (4, 10, and 11).