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This is a very long story.
Original inquiry was in February, emailed back and forth for weeks.
Finally agreed to rental in March and was informed person I was dealing with was the adult daughter who requested I email all documents to her.
Signed documents - lease agreement and confirmation letter which clearly states payment dates and cancellation policy was returned with deposit (which is nominal) beginning of April.
End of April emailed daughter said I needed first payment that week and final payment 30 days later, she responded they would be sending payment soon.
May came along and I was travelling most of the month. I sent an email to the daughter mid-May saying I need the $$, when I sent another email last week she asked for my phone number because the mother wanted to talk to me. I sent her my number and said I was cancelling her reservation but she still owed me money.
The mother called yesterday and claimed she never saw any documents, she never signed anything and she wasn't paying for a vacation she wasn't taking and I should have no trouble renting my place (two weeks from now)
Now the daughter claims it's my fault for not dealing directly with the mother.
I know I was remiss in not pursuing the money more dilligently or cancelling her reservation sooner. However I told her I would be willing to split the difference and she said no.
Should I use this experience as a very expensive lesson or should I use one of the many lawyers in my family to pursue this.
You can talk to the attorneys if you wish, but if it were me I would chalk it up to a lesson learned. I don't communicate with third parties regarding a rental. Also, I would not expect people who cancel to send more money than they have already paid. I just don't think they will do it.
That is why I don't mess around with deposits. Too many flaky people in this world. When they pay up front, they get less flaky. I know that won't work for everyone.
Will you let us know what your attorney says?
I also agree with Wiffle, just chalk it up to a bad experience. We give people a strict due date on when monies are due. If they do not pay on time, the reservation will be cancelled, however, we have never had to do that.
Agreed. I used to ask for a nominal deposit to reserve requested dates, but that just seemed to attract the flakes. The last straw was when I never received the deposit from someone who was 'hot and heavy' to book a week in August. No money and no courtesy of contact saying they had changed their minds or whatever. Now I require half the total balance at booking and the remaining half is due 30 days before arrival. Voila! No flakes!
Now, I don't agree that they should send you anymore money, but if you have a signed rental agreement with a clearly stated cancellation policy then you shouldn't have to refund either. If your contract states that you can cancel the reservation for non-payment according to schedule without refund then so be it, but don't expect them to pay you anything else.
Yes, payment upfront rocks. First one to pay gets the reservation. No waiting on checks in the mail that may never show up. As far as this particular situation goes, do you have a falsified reservation clause in your contract? The person (assuming they are 18) who signed the agreement is responsible to uphold the agreement. If I were you, I would consider writing her a letter that explains the implications regarding her actions. I am not a lawyer, but I have a delightful contract that has been complimented by several attorneys. I had this happen to me a couple of years ago.
I had some folks no-show and of course they didn't want to pay and they tried to turn it around on me. I explained to them that they had indeed signed a contract with me and that I would let them off the hook for the 2 nights and nothing else, as I had 4 other inquires for the weekend and could have charged them more. I explained that I would take legal action and that I would win and they would be responsible for the balance, plus deposits, court cost etc. Not to mention the time that they would have to spend visiting our delightful court room. I had payment within 7 days.
In the future, do not tell them that you are canceling their reservation. That's where you can lose. A judge will probably not rule in your favor based on your intent to cancel. So, I would at least try to go after something here. They have to travel a long ways to meet you in court and they will probably be amicable to settle. A well written letter is a powerful tool.
or...you could sell the case to a local collection agency...
I hope this helps!
With reservation manager, I get half the money upfront and then the other half 30 days before they arrive. Otherwise, I send a note stating their reservations could be cancelled. Because Reservation Manager sends them a reminder about the payment, I haven't had any problems thus far with payment.
I never ever make a reservation without funds being paid and my contract being agreed to!
My calendar stays open, and it is first come, first serve! I have to do that since I do get multiple inquiries at times.
Hi everyone, I am new to this rental and am starting to write up my contracts. Like seeing what you all had to say that is alot of helpful information. I am inquiring on what your take is on what the contract should state if they do cancel. What is a reasonable time limit and money to be refunded in those cases? I want to include this in the main contract so that I am covered too. Thanks for all the infor. Is there anything else that I need to include that has helped you all in the past from your renting experience?
Two months for me too, although that is really too short to re-rent for my high-rent season. Most of my reservations come in January - Feb for July and August, so if I allow a July renter to cancel up through the beginning of April, I've missed the best chance to fill the hole in my schedule.
You should base the cancellation period on the usual booking schedule in your area. If you often get last-minute renters, 30 days might be perfectly reasonable. If you're new and not sure about the inquiry patterns, look at nearby competitors ads and see what their cancellation policies are.
GREAT advice. 30 days might not be enough time in my Vacation home. Although, I will say that the folks that I recently refunded, only happened because someone booked at the last minute. So, you just never really know how things will turn out. Just check out your commpetitors and then make your best judgement call.
Thank everyone for all the help. I will take it all and try one thing and do a process of elimination. You never know when you will get renters as this is not a guaranteed thing. Weather and where you are located have to factor in. Great replies.
To avoid many problems with payments I simply let people know that there have been other people interested in the property and the first to pay gets the property. If someone states they need to talk to their spouse and will get back to me tomorrow, I let them know the policy stands ( in a very polite way of course). If someone wants to book a few minutes later I book em. If the first person is a return renter I will do everything possible to let them know that I have someone ready to book. In this day in age how hard is it to get in contact with someone?
Recently a lady said she was very interested and would get back to me on Monday which was 3 days away.Long story short she never got back to me and I wound up booking because the inquires I got over the weekend I gave the same respect to as I did her. In no way or shape am I going to take someones word unless I have booked them before. People constantly leave me hanging, thats just how people are. As far as payment I am like most and require the balance 30 days prior to arrival. I tweek that a bit as I am not always fully booked 30 days out. If possible, taking 50% to book and 50% upon arrival seems to work well when time is restricted, but its not always an option.
Since my wife and I stay at our location when it is not being rented then we have no problem with last minute cancellations. I do charge an administrative fee in getting funds back to the renter.