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Though the East End is experiencing sub-freezing temperatures and intermittent snow showers, many folks are looking beyond and are actively searching for a summer 2021 rental.

If you’re hoping to enjoy the North Fork’s beaches, wineries and farm-to-table restaurants come June, July or August, you’d be smart to join them. That’s because 2021 is expected to be a “very active” rental market, says Thomas McCloskey, licensed real estate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

So how do you secure a property without tearing your hair out? McCloskey says your first step should be working with an agent who is active and interested in the North Fork rental market.

“This is someone with strong ties to the community who will be able to help tenants find landlords who may not have listed yet or who may be undecided on renting for the season,” he says. 

You can do this by calling any number of real estate firms located on the North Fork and asking to be connected to an agent that specializes in the kind of rentals you’re looking for. Some specialize by location while others list homes by price point. You can also search for rental listings online to become familiar with the agents that are listing homes that appeal to you.

Another strategy? “Scout online,” says Sheri Winter Parker, licensed associate real estate broker with Corcoran. Many North Fork real estate sites allow you to drill down and filter by location, price, availability, number of bedrooms and baths, and amenities like pools, water access and tennis. Others, like Trulia, allow you to sign up for email alerts so you are immediately notified when a listing that fits your parameters comes on the market.

When you do find a rental you’re happy with, make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. The town of Riverhead and Southold and the village of Greenport all have strict permit codes that require routine inspections of properties being rented as well as varying limits on short-term rentals. You may need short-term permits for beach parking and garbage disposal as well.

“Tenants should also be mindful of renting homes without rental permits,” says McCloskey. “A good agent will make sure a property has the appropriate paperwork and safety equipment in place.”

What’s more, an agent can be useful if you are toying with renting your home to take advantage of the hot market. They can help draw up contracts and make sure you are in line with local permit codes. If you rent on a site like VRBO or AirBnB, agents may also be called upon to manage the property so you don’t have to be on call to handle any issue that may pop up.