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Rentals: Only Luxury Houses Need Apply

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 12:03

Luxury Retreats, an online vacation rental company that specializes in high-end homes, is seeking to add more South Fork properties to its inventory to keep up with customer demand, said Maura Linney, the director of the firm’s Hamptons portfolio, who recently moved to the area to meet with prospective hosts. “Homeowners here are traditional, so the company wanted someone on the ground,” she said.

The company, which launched in 1999, has distinguished itself from other rental services, said Ms. Linney, by being highly selective about the houses it features, and by providing up to $1 million in homeowner’s insurance.

Airbnb purchased Luxury Retreats in 2017, and is operating it as a separate entity, she said. She also represents Airbnb Luxe, a similar service that launched in June.

Both brands are looking to find rental homes between Southampton and Montauk, though not on Shelter Island, she said.

To become a host, a homeowner must fill out a form on the company’s website, and provide photos of the property. An interior design expert at the company will provide her assessment based on the photos, said Ms. Linney. “She’ll note things like ‘great social spaces,’ or ‘great history to the house,’ or ‘pristine,’ ” she said.

If the house passes that test, an inspector, armed with a 300-point checklist, will then visit to confirm that each room and its amenities are up to snuff. The home’s appliances must be modern, and every bedroom should have at least one window, a closet, and bedside tables, said Ms. Linney. According to the company’s list of home standards, the furnishings should also be comfortable and tasteful, and there can be no musty smell. 

After a home has been accepted, members of the Luxury Retreats team will assist homeowners through the listing process, including registering as a rental property as required by East Hampton and Southampton Towns, she said.

The company will handle the booking arrangements, scheduling, communication with guests, and the payment process. Luxury Retreats receives 20 percent of the money earned from a reservation.

If any unforeseen problems arise during a guest’s stay, the company provides 24-hour access to someone who will address them, thus taking the burden off the homeowner.

“It’s a hassle to rent your house, and we try take the uncertainty and a lot of the hassle out of it,” said Ms. Linney.