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Protect Yourself When Renting at the Beach

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ATLANTIC BEACH — This is the time of year many families line up vacation houses on the North Carolina coast. There are some things people can do to make sure the beach house they rent is safe.

Linda Morrison is one of more than 100,000 people who will rent vacation property this year inCarteret County.

She says renting is the best way to get a nice place without spending a small fortune.

"Well, it's only 12 hours from home. The beach is beautiful. We do a lot of sand sculpture when we do go to the beach, and this sand looks pretty good here," said Morrison.

But aState Supreme Courtruling says that vacationers should be careful. In a nutshell, the ruling says that short-term renters do not get the same protection from unsafe property that long-term renters do.

Industry experts say people can rent and still be safe by doing their homework. First, and most important, try to see the place before renting it.

"I think people can come down and actually look at the property themselves. They could certainly ask for a reference on the rental agent or the company they're renting from. I would ask for a list of amenities. Know what you're getting," said Carol Lohr,tourism bureaudirector.

If the rental company will not cooperate, go to the local tourism office or better business bureau. In many instances you can even check online.

"A lot of the rental agents have their property on the Internet, so that might be a source to get some good information from," said Lohr.

The court concluded by saying that this part of the law is ripe for new legislation, so do not be surprised to find this one making its way back into the hands of lawmakers.

Many states have laws that hold landlords liable in short-term rental situations.

In the recent Supreme Court ruling, a concurring justice wrote he thinks it is time for theGeneral Assemblyto take action to add our state to that list.