5 Replies Latest reply: May 18, 2012 11:59 AM by amyg RSS

    Owner needs to cancel reservation due to illness in family

    New Member

      We have a guesthouse behind our home that we rent as a vacation rental.  Last week my husband's mother was hopitalized and when she comes out she will need to stay in this guesthouse.  However, the guesthouse is booked for this time period (in 10 days), and I have to inform the renters that I need to return their full deposit and payment.  What else should I do to make the situation right?

        • Re: Owner needs to cancel reservation due to illness in family
          sophie Senior Contributor



          This is a horrible situation to be in. I would ask that you put yourself in the renters position, they have searched for and paid for a vacation rental that they are expecting in 10 days.  In my opinion it is situations like this that give vrbo owners a bad name and why many people complain about vacation rentals. It is a leap of faith to send someone your money because YOU (a stranger) are at their mercy to have a vacation with no glitches.


          Can't your mil stay with you until the renters checkout? Did you have a contract? If so, you could very well be sued.


          If you are insistent on canceling, the least you can do is find them another comparable or better rental and you pay the difference if it's more than what they paid for yours.


          The only way to make it right is to NOT CANCEL them!




          I just calculated the days...Is this over Memorial Day Weekend?


          Message was edited by: sophie

            • Re: Owner needs to cancel reservation due to illness in family
              Senior Contributor

              I'm with Sophie on this. I'm so sorry for your family situation. However, you're going to have to make these folks whole, one way or another. Try to find a them another place that is equal or better (you may have to eat tthe cost difference).


              It's not fun at all, but I've learned that it's important to get to know other VR owners in my home's area, and be able able to work with them if an issue arises.

              Best of luck and I hope all works out well for everyone.


              • Re: Owner needs to cancel reservation due to illness in family
                anja Senior Contributor

                To add support:   I agree with all of sophie's and msdebs' points, entirely.


                In the first instance, I would honor the contract with the guests [and here, sophie, is correct...cancelling a vacationers stay does give 'the private vacation rental trade' a big black eye.  I've read about many incidences like this...and it could get ugly for you if the guests challenge your cancellation. People can be easily resentful].  Therefore...


                First, I would try my hardest to avoid cancelling the guests. Even if it inconveniences myself / family members, I would make room in my own home to care for my recuperating relative.  But, I understand that you may not have the room, at all, to do this.  Therefore...


                Second, I would definitely find another rental in the same 'immediate' area - because they chose it {or an even better location if you can top yours,  e.g. better view or whatever} ...even if it's a bit more expensive rental...and I would cover the price difference.


                The third, and last, alternative could be to find a rental very near your home where your recuperating relative can stay in. That last option would not work if your mother-in-law needs someone to help her a lot....but it could even be nice for her "recuperation" stay after getting out of a hospital  {if you want to look at it from a bright side}. I would pay for it, of course!   Either way, I would pay to compensate whomever. That's just me.


                You have options. Use your imagination.

                I recall a neighboring rental owner who not only refunded in full, found a rental {but it did not have the hot tub her place had...or an equal view, so she went so far as to cover the cost of a few days of car rental for the guests.  You can buy them a nice dinner in a good restaurant...or send them on an fun excursion, you pick up the tab.  So, you can compensate in any manner that you think equals {or exceeds} the value of your rental.  But, I would make it a very nice compensation. Sometimes, this can work to everyone's benefit, if you compensate generously, exceeding the value of your place a bit.


                P.S. I answered with my personal experience in mind.  A few years ago, when we were having a new bathroom made, we had to move 3 different sets of guests because the worker we hired was not sticking to deadlines  {a very tense situation}.  So, I lost a heep of money on those three sets of guests because I was forced to move them all {tranaferring the monies to the new owner + paying the price difference}.   A neighbouring rental...just 5 minutes away...with a lovely and much bigger cottage with features I did not have {e.g. even better rental}...had all the dates to take everyone.  So, I could get the ducks lined up in a row. I paid the difference  and was relieved that I could get the guests settled nicely.  I phoned everyone with the "bad news"...and then immediately made good by giving them "the good news"...and they thanked me for helping them save their vacations!


                I feel very responsible for the quality of someone's vacation ...I had to make it not just work for all those folks who entrusted me {my property} for their vacation...but make it a notably good compensation.  I spoke to them all afterwards. They were all very pleased with how it turned out for them....[it benefited them].

              • Re: Owner needs to cancel reservation due to illness in family

                I agree with the others here. It is really unacceptable to cancel the agreement at all.


                How would you accommodate your mother in law if you didn't have that guest house? Get a rollaway bed or rent a nice bed? Purchase a twin set from a local warehouse store? Air mattress for you and your husband and give your mother in law your room for the days the home is booked?


                These people selected your home for their vacation and entered into an agreement with you in good faith. It comes across very, very bad if you cancel on them.


                If you do cancel, I agree that you should offer them something nicer than what you've got and pay for the entire difference.

                  • Re: Owner needs to cancel reservation due to illness in family
                    amyg Active Contributor

                    Not to pile on more, but you definitely should not cancel these guests.  This is your problem and you are making it theirs.  Look at your contract before taking any action--do you have an "out" that permits you to cancel their stay for any reason?  It's one thing when you have storm damage (Acts of God) that can take your property out of service--that's different.  But to say your MIL needs to convalesce at your guest house and to cancel their stay?  I hate to think it but you could be threatened with legal action and will most likely end up with a very negative review on your listings.


                    As this guest, I would be really disappointed even if you offered to relocate me to a better property.  I would feel as though I had done my homework, paid in advance and done everything right.  Now the VR owner is breaking the lease and saying they will take care of me, don't worry?  I'm afraid that most people will worry because with a last minute change like this, what kind of VR properties are available?  Certainly not the pick of the crop. 


                    Sophie has it spot-on.  This is the kind of situation that gives RBOers a black eye.  Please reconsider cancelling their stay and having your MIL stay with you in your own house...or setting her up with a nearby place like Mariott Residence Inn. 


                    I'm really sorry for your predicament but I think you need to look at it from a business perspective and that of your guests for added clarity.  I'm sure with careful thought you'll find a solution.  Wiffle's suggestions for a rollaway bed rental...even hospital bed rental (you can get them at medical supply stores), would be good options.  Please let us know how it all turns out.  Good luck!