I've rented previously before with both HomeAway and VRBO with no issues. This time, two weeks before I'm due to arrive in Orlando with my family, I find out that the owner rented the house to someone else after receiving my deposit and balance without notifying me. Only after I inquired about the check-in process, did I receive an e-mail reply that the house was reserved to someone else.
Initially, the owner e-mailed me and stated she can mail me back my balance payment check. So, I inquired about my deposit, which she already cashed, and she said will not refund my deposit. I checked the rental agreement it stated - 'The client may cancel the holiday booked at any time after it has been confirmed. Cancellation must be in writing in the form of a letter or e-mail. We will not keep deposits/rental fees if the property can be re-rented. If the property is rented for a fraction of the original rental fee because it is posted as a late availability listing, the portion of the rent recovered will be refunded." NOTE: I DID NOT CANCEL THE BOOKING. She claimed that she just received my balance payment 2 weeks before my vacation after I inquired about it, so she booked it to someone else. She also claims there are problems with the U.S. Postal service since the post-marked was much earlier.
I called her and we discussed the rental agreement policy about returning deposits/rental fees. She and I both verbally agreed that she will return my deposit & balance payment check minus any discounts applied. I sent her an e-mail confirming our agreement and to e-mail me back stating she agrees to refund my money via certified mail since she has problems with the U.S. Postal service. I also requested that she provide proof of the rental discounts applied. I gave her a deadline to confirm via e-mail and still no reply after the deadline.
I think she mistakenly booked it to someone else and still wants to keep my money. I'm not sure what else to do about getting my deposit & balance check back. I think it's only reasonable that she refund my money since I don't have the vacation rental and she booked it to someone else.
I should have checked Better Business Bureau, her LLC Corp. had previous complaints. Should I file a small claims court? I don't live in the same state as her LLC.