By Amy Farley
December 01, 2014

Looking for quick solutions to your travel concerns? Our resident expert Amy Farley has the facts with Travel + Leisure’s Trip Doctor Challenge.

Thinking of trying out Airbnb for your next vacation? There’s still a lot that’s murky about renting someone else’s apartment. Here’s what you need to know when you use sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey, and OneFineStay.

Beware of scams. The number one danger for renters is a phishing scam. Keep payments through the secure payment fields and messaging areas. Don’t agree to take the conversation offline to avoid commission—it is a scam.

Be sure to do your homework. Use the sites’ social media connections to speak with someone past guests. Confirm that the place has safety measures in place, such as smoke detectors and child guards in windows. And use Google Street view to get an accurate sense of the neighborhood.

Know the local law. The rules governing short-term apartment rentals vary city by city and can be incredibly complex. FYI, it’s the person renting the apartment who is going to be liable if short-term rental laws are enforced.

Finally, this is key: If the apartment has been listed misleadingly or is generally unclean and not fit for sleeping, you may be able to get a guest refund. Our advice? Be familiar with the booking sites’ policies.

Tweet us at @TLTripDoctor with any burning questions for travel dilemmas, and find more tips, news, and information at