8 Replies Latest reply: Jul 3, 2012 6:37 AM by lrbaldwin RSS

    DC storm, no power, should we offer a refund?

    New Member

      A recent storm knocked out all power in our area on Friday evening. Saturday morning the guest left to find other lodging. We contacted the  guest who was scheduled to arrive this Sunday (today), on Saturday, telling her we would keep her updated. We still have no power. We do have a clause in our rental agreement stating that there will not be refunds for storms, resulting in the guest not being able to use the vacation rental. Also, VRBO does offer travel insurance when someone books through them. We tried to help the first guest to find lodging and refunded the one day she lost as a result of the storm. The next guest who was supposed to be here today, basically just wanted a refund and kept saying she should have purchased the travel insurance. We are up in the air here. Even though we have the protective clause in our rental agreement, should we just accept the loss and refund the money?

        • Re: DC storm, no power, should we offer a refund?
          lrbaldwin Active Contributor

          If the house is unfit for occupancy, then you're required to refund their money. I would consider a house without electricity to be unfit.



          • Re: DC storm, no power, should we offer a refund?

            I agree with lrbaldwin and stjvilla - "unfit for intended purpose" is often the terminology used.

            • Re: DC storm, no power, should we offer a refund?
              carol Premier Contributor

              Yes, I agree also.  The same thing happened to me last year with Hurricane Irene.  I refunded a pro-rated amount based on the number of days they lost.  Could you offer them their choice of a refund or a stay at another time?


              I have a similar situation here now -- we had a water main break and for two days we were under a boil order.  It really wasn't so bad -- boil water for a minute, keep it in the fridge, keep a bottle of water next to each sink for brushing teeth.    I'm thinking I will just give them a $25 gift certificate to our local ice cream parlor for the inconvenience. 

                • Re: DC storm, no power, should we offer a refund?
                  Senior Contributor

                  Here's our Cancellation policy. I figure I have to have a bit of kindness, since I'll be losing money ( that I can deduct) , but they are losing a vacation that they've planned and bugeted for too.for


                  Cancellation Policy

                  *$100.00 Cancellation fee will be applied to all cancellations.

                  • Two Months prior to date of arrival: Deposit refund = 100% (minus the *$100 cancelation fee)
                  • 30 days prior to date  of arrival:  50% of  BASE rental rate and applicable taxes, (minus the *$100 cancellation fee). Damage Deposit and Cleaning Fee will be refunded.
                  • Less than 30 days prior to date of arrival:  No refund, other than Cleaning Fee and Damage Deposit.

                    NO REFUNDS due to weather UNLESS:  

                  1. The National Weather Service and the City of Galveston orders a MANDATORY Hurricane Evacuation Order for the Galveston, Texas Gulf Coast area.
                  2. The day/date such an order is given we will process the following refund:
                  1. Any unused  (prorated by day, minus cleaning fee) portion of rent for a guest currently in residence.
                  2. Any unused (prorated by day) portion of rent paid by the Primary renter scheduled to arrive, who wish to shorten their stay and come for the remainder of their confirmed dates  after the Order has been lifted, and our home has been inspected by Owner/Agent and is deemed habitable.

                  Owner reserves the right to cancel the reservation if all monies and completed paperwork are not received by the date due, or should property become unavailable due to uninhabitable conditions. All monies will be returned if cancellation is due to uninhabitable issues as determined by Owner.

                  I have read the terms of agreement and as the Responsible Party for this rental I agree to abide by them.




                  Signature _________________________________Date_______________  (page 3 of 4)

                    • Re: DC storm, no power, should we offer a refund?
                      susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

                      Oh, Wow, live and learn. Last year I refunded 2 days rental for Hurricane Irene because of mandatory evacuation. I never thought to deduct a pro-rated cleaning fee.


                      I now have a clause in my lease that states no weather related refunds. The clause contains a suggestion that the guest purchase insurance to cover this, along with wording on where to purchase this type of insurance.

                      Does anyone know if storm protection insurance purchased by a guest would reimburse them for no electricity? If it was out for more than a few hours, I don't think a guest should pay to stay.

                      Interesting note about our guests this week. They are from the area in Maryland where some people's electricity has been off for days & the area is a mess so they beat the bullet by being in Rehoboth Beach this week.

                        • Re: DC storm, no power, should we offer a refund?
                          lrbaldwin Active Contributor

                          Susan, you really should read your state law regarding vacation rentals.  Ours in NC does state that the owner is responsible for giving the tenant a full refund for days lost during a period of mandatory evacuation UNLESS he has been notified via the lease agreement that he can obtain travel insurance to cover that (I'm not sure you have to suggest a company, but we do because many travel insurance policies do not cover that).  So you've done the right thing, but make sure the insurance you suggest is one that does.  Our state law also says that the insurance cannot cost over 8% of the total rent.   We use this clause:

                          . HURRICANE OR STORM POLICY: No refunds will be given. We highly recommend you purchase travel insurance.

                          TRAVEL INSURANCE: The insurance company that is used by many rental agencies here on the OBX is CSA.  Among other things, it covers days lost due to mandatory evacuation by the local government.


                          The number for CSA is 1-800-348-9505. Wait through the menu and you’ll get a human.  Tell them you want CSA Insurance plan code 330CSA and TELL THEM YOU'RE STAYING AT A HOUSE ADVDERTISED ON VRBO.  The premium will be 6.95% of the prepaid rental cost (don't count tax or security deposit). Their hours for questions and purchasing are:


                          6-6 M-F Pacific Time

                          6-3 Weekends Pacific Time


                          We do not receive any commission from any purchases made from this company.


                            Of course you can purchase any trip insurance you please or none at all.  We just need to have on record that we offered you an insurance option. We have been told by one of our renters that purchasing the CSA insurance is extremely quick and simple.

                          I agree that all rental monies are non-refundable per cancellation policy above. I have read my rights to purchase travel insurance. By Signing Below, I agree to all terms and conditions of this agreement.

                          Sign ____________________________________________________________


                          So Susan, read that policy to make sure it covers evacuation for storms.  It will cover lots of other things like lost luggage, cancelled or delayed flights, and may cover the loss of electricity for an extended period.  However, you cannot force a tenant to purchase the policy, so if he chooses not to, you're most likely liable for the days lost due to electric outage.



                    • Re: DC storm, no power, should we offer a refund?
                      skiandglee Active Contributor

                      You aren't in Old Rag VA are you?  I just took a last minute renter who had a family vacation scheduled in Old Rag and had to cancel it due to no power there.