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We have a renter who booked for two weeks in December. He reserved the house with 1/2 of the rent and the remainder plus the damage deposit and cleaning fee are due 30 days prior to arrival. That time has come and he does not want to pay the damage deposit until he arrives. He is worried that he is taking a huge financial risk by paying all of the money up front. He fears that he could arrive and we will not be legitamate. Although we stated our policy clearly in the lease agreement that he signed we have had several back and forth emails about this issue. His messages are starting to sound quite angry. We don't know if we should give in on this or refund his money and find other renters if we can. We are pretty new at this - he is only our third customer. Any advice?
The simple answer is all monies must be paid in full before the rental period begins. If you have a client that is growing angry about making payments to which they agreed, and you can't sort out what they are troubled about, I would advise it is best to refund the gentleman's money and move on to seeking another client.
Have you tried talking on the telephone instead of email with this gentleman? Perhaps telephone contact will improve the situation. .
It may be that offering to return his funds in full and release him from the contract will reassure him that everything is fine and he will be willing to make his final payment(s).
But keep in mind that an angry client is not a good way to start a relationship.
You know, this is a totally valid concern on his part. But, your policy is your policy. If he doesn't like your policy, he needs to stay with someone that has a policy that he agrees with.
I know that's all easier said than done, especially when you're in the middle of dealing with someone like this. There is another risk you're taking, though, in dealing with this person. If he's being super picky now, he may be worse when he gets to your place - something to think about. You may be better sending him his money back.
One other suggestion is to bend to his terms. He may have been burned in the past and now apprehensive in his travel.
But, if they are getting heated, as you're saying, it sounds like you might be better off letting him go.
I've "fired" many guests before they get here because of a bad gut feeling. You have to listen to that. Every time I've not listened to my gut, I've regretted it ($300 in damages, repeated customer calls on petty issues, etc.).
Hope this helps.
The guest is disputing paying the damage deposit 30 days in advance. I don't know how much money you are asking for the damage deposit. However, if you are asking $500 for a refundable deposit, that is a lot of cash tied up for the guest.
We require rental fees paid 30 days in advance and require a credit card on file for damages that we 'Authrorize' $500 or appropriate amount the day the guest checks in. Upon checkout we release the authorization providing there is no damage. Personally, I like this approach because we have the credit card available for significant damage if that were to ever happen.
Yes, the guest could dispute the charge. But, I would rather have that risk than to irritate the guest with holding cash for long periods of time.
More important is screening the guests and a good rental agreement discussing damages. That way if they dispute a damage charge you can go to small claims court with the signed rental agreement.
I agree that speaking with him on the phone would be a great start, if you haven't already done that. That can go a long way in building trust. Also, you may be able to smooth things out with him and help him feel more comfortable with the terms.
However, on the flip side, if someone wants to book one of our vacation homes and is unwilling to comply with our simple and straightforward policies, which happen to include final payment in full 60 days prior to check-in, then they will not be renting the home! Granted, we've made rare exceptions, but we have NEVER allowed someone to access a property without payment in full. We do not even give our guests the property address or access instructions until payment in full has been received. We provide them with tons of information so that feel confident in what they are getting, but we are careful to protect our interests and the interests of our owners as well.
I know you probably don't want to let this reservation go, but a fast and easy way to 'get your power back', as I like to put it, is to call him up, let him know a check is on its way to him as a full refund and that he can go elsewhere to find another property (like a hotel...ha ha) that is more in line with the terms and conditions he is looking for. You can be nice and professional about it, but there is no reason to let any guest get you ruffled up and hot under the collar over something like this. It is your property, your business, your operation and either they agree to the terms and conditions, or they do not. Vacation rentals are not hotels and we have slightly different financial requirements than hotels, naturally. We need to make sure we can keep our properties booked as much as possible and one way to ensure against last minute cancellations is to require payment in full 30-60 days prior to check-in and to have a pretty strong cancellation policy that you are willing to enforce, if necessary.
Are you using a signed Rental Agreement up front? If not, you should probably do that in order to have something tangible to go back to if you need to. For instance, "You initialed on page 3 which explains our cancellation policy." That can really protect you should a rare chargeback or something like that occur. If you have nothing signed, in writing or 'electronically' agreed to, then you don't have much evidence besides your word against theirs.
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