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Block Island is such a beautiful and relaxing place to spend some time in the summer, spring or fall (and if you are hearty enough, in the winter!). Most people stay in a hotel or inn for a couple of days on their first stay or two, but it doesn't take long for the idea of staying longer and renting a house or a condo to come up. It's a good idea to have!
Almost half of the homes on the island rent for at least a couple of weeks in the summer time and there are eight real estate agencies on island who manage rentals:
Attwood Real Estate (www.attwoodrealestate.com )
Ballard-Hall Real Estate (www.blockislandproperty.com )
Beach Real Estate (www.bibeachrealestate.com )
Block Island Realty ( www.birealty.com )
Lila Delman Real Estate ( www.liladelman.com )
Offshore Property (www.offshorepropertyllc.com )
Phillips Real Estate ( www.phillipsonbi.com )
Sullivan Real Estate ( www.blockislandhouses.com )
All eight are very reputable agencies with a long history of both rentals and sales on Block Island.
In addition to these, there are also some smaller cottages, time shares and condos that market themselves through the Chamber of Commerce. The listing of these can be found on their website at www.blockislandchamber.com .
As with any beach destination, the houses will vary by age, location and owner care. Your real estate agent will be careful to alert you to the pros and cons of each rental depending on your "wish list" of features. Before you call take the time to look through the houses online and make note of what you like, and don't like, about the different houses and locations. Be sure to prioritize your list of wishes and write out a list of questions to ask your realtor, such as:
Is the house close to the beach. Does it have an ocean view? A pond view? What is the size of house/ number of bedrooms?
Cost of house per week? Number of bathrooms. Is it pet friendly? Is it located on a dirt or paved road? Can you walk to town?
Is there satellite TV? What sort of kitchen does it have? Is there an outdoor shower? Great kitchen? What sort of appliances?
Is there a gas or Charcoal grill? Picnic table or outdoor eating area? Does the house have garbage collection or do you have to go to the transfer station? Where is the house located? Near town, on the Neck, Southwest Point, the West Side, Champlin Road, on the pond? Etc., etc., etc.
Decide what you can't be without and what you would be willing to bend a little on.
All of the real estate agencies have pretty much the same procedures and policies. Each will require a deposit of at least half to confirm the rental. The balance has to be paid by cashiers check or in cash (no credit cards or personal checks for the balance). All will require cleaning and damage deposits. Some will require you to pay for cleaning, others will allow you to do your own cleaning. Some houses have garbage pick up, some do not.
The first two weeks of reservations (usually in January) are traditionally reserved for returning renters who want to rent the same house for the same weeks. After that point it becomes an open market so be sure to call early for the best choice of houses. The busiest time on the island, and therefore the toughest time to rent a house, is mid July to the third week of August. It is easier to find houses for the first two weeks of July and the last week of August. If you rent a house in May, June, September or October the prices are generally less expensive. In these "shoulder season" months you will find lots of shops, restaurants and amusements not only open, but uncrowded. Of course the biking, hiking, beaches, etc. are always "open" and always enjoyable.
As soon as you know what week you want to come to the island, you NEED to make a reservation on the ferry for your car. The only ferry that transports cars is Interstate Navigation service from Point Judith, RI. www.blockislandferry.com
Most houses on the island do not come with bed and bath linens. You will either have to bring them or rent the through the service on the island www.blockislandlinenrental.com . Houses rented through Beach Real Estate and Lila Delman, as well as a few houses through Sullivan Real Estate include linens in the rental.
If you are arriving on the late ferry and you want to make sure you are stocked up with the staples, contact Claire at Block Island Provisioning. She can act as your personal shopper and stock the house with milk, bread, eggs, juice, wine or beer, or whatever you need to feel at home on your first day....or supply you for your entire trip. www.blockislandprovisioning.com
You can bring your own bikes, surf boards, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, beach towels, kayaks, paddle boards or boat...or, you can rent any of these on the island.
A word to the wise: Please be careful when renting a house through an online agency such as Craigslist. Over the last three years there have been a proliferation of fraudulent Block Island rentals on Craigslist. The unsuspecting renters thought they had legitimately rented homes or a condo only to find out they were scammed when they arrived on the island. "If it seems too good to be true, it is". Beware of paying for your rental home with PayPal.
(Since the original writing of this article, there have had two more cases of unsuspecting renters being lured into fraudulent rentals. In both cases the houses were listed on Craigslist, and in both cases it was a real home being "rented" by someone other than the owner.)
If you have questions about this, you can call the Block Island Chamber of Commerce or the New Shoreham Police Department.