Yes, make sure you have a clause in your contract to cancle a reservation.
Like this: Owner reserves the right to cancle guest reservation due to unforseen circumstances(This would also include bad, disresepctful behavior, but you don't need to state that). Act of God or other distress making the property unrentable. If this arrises, guest will be 100% refunded.
Nothing there that they can do.
I hope this helps!
I agree with the right to cancel the res, and as Diver had stated "Its your house"!
Your way or the highway! You have been nice even though you were going through tremendous personal loss, and this bozo had a bad week and thinks he can take it out on you? Fools like these need to be put if their place, if they write a bad review take the time and write a well thought out owner reply and forget them forever.
My complex requires all cars to have parking passes in them. In the past the renter would drop by the office to pick this banner up. Trying to get as much information that I can on the renter I have asked during negotiations for the renter to supply me with a copy of their drivers license, car, etc only to find out that they got uncomfortable. Then I switched my tactic and after a contract has been signed I said that my complex requires all visitors to register their autos and get a parking pass on them. With this in mind I inform them that I need this information to give to the property manager so that she can prepare a pass. I did not know how the PM would take this proactive approach but found out that she actually loved the idea as it gives her more time to prepare these passes instead of being bombarded with renters coming into her office on Saturday morning.
Also the benefit to this approach is now I have a copy of their drivers licence and car tag information on file if ever needed or want to verify the potential renter more. I have not had a single renter question this approach. Go figure!
I am replying to the suggestion that you put a clause in the contract stating that you have the right to cancel their reservation.
I think there would be alot of people that would not sign a contract that had that clause. Home owners can be just as opportunistic and eccentric as guests.
I also believe that if you have a clause like that you need to make it reciprocal...if you can cancel their reservation up to the last minute why can't they?
I have used this explanation countless times when booking. Because we have such a short peak season in Vermont I require full payment at the time of reservation for the peak weeks. Some folks worry about doing that. I explain that I am committing to them just I am expecting them to commit to us. Neither party can cancel at the last minute because something better came along.
Having said that, you could elaborate a bit on your contract. You could be very clear about your boundaries (terms) and state that the contract is void if renter breaches the terms...
So far we have been very fortunate and I think it is because I interview everyone in person before reserving. Lots of people want to do it all online and I refuse. I may loose a few but in the end I think it's been to our advantage.
Most of the time you can tell if someone's going to take advantage and you can start putting them off. Often they are wanting more than your place has to offer from the get go. There is also no law that says you can't add clauses to your contract to address each party. If a family is coming to the area for a wedding you can strengthen your clause on house parties and number of cars. If there is a family member camping near by and they want to park their camper on your property that should be a red flag that they're looking to get more out of the rental they're paying for.
Also, about discrimination laws. Craigslist has a series of links that will take you to each state's housing discrimination laws.
hope this helps.
It's nice to see a place where we can vent and hopefully learn from each other. I swear, sometimes I think I'm turning into Basil Fawlty from Fawlty Towers, and I really don't want to get that way. But it is so hard. I will share a couple of things that I've learned in the hopes it will help anyone else. I have three rental cottages along the same block, and I live at one end.
1. If you live on the property where your rentals are, be clear that your house is off limits. Give them specific directions about how and when to contact you and stick to it.
Last year I had one guest walk right into my house twice the same day without even knocking. She'd been here the season before and felt a sense of entitlement. See #2 and 3 below for more. I'm actually considering not telling the guests where I live at all. As long as they have clear contact info and I get back to them right away, I see no reason why they need to come into my home.
2. I no longer socialize with guests
I am such a friendly and social person and I never thought I'd say this. But I have learned that I cannot make friends with guests. It leads to privacy problems and a situation where they call you for every **** little thing, day in and day out. I had one woman this year treat me like a surrogate family member and thought I should be at her beck and call for everything she needed to do. It really got ridiculous. She also went through personal possessions I store in my shared laundry area and kept pushing that she wanted to help me "organize" these materials. She'd find things in my storage that she would take and use in her house. She rented two different houses from me because one was rented for a month during season, and she moved some of my household items between houses making it very difficult for me to keep track of what was where.
3. Long term repeat renters tend to develop a sense of entitlement, especially if they book repeat visits. The ones I've had have asked for special favors because of the length of their stay, they start taking liberties with the propery and furnishings because they bring a carload of stuff with them (for no good reason, my places are turnkey.) They try to lobby for improvements every year without paying for them (one woman negotiated with me to convert a non-working fireplace to a gas fireplace, which she never once used...in Florida we have maybe three days a year where it would be useable. It cost me $350 to do and she wanted a discount off her stay that was $300/month under my published rates.) This same woman actually went into another guest's fenced back yard to take a bicycle that she thought they were not using. The guests had checked it out for the full day, and when they saw it gone, they thought it had been stolen. Until this other guest came back with it, we had no idea where it was. I've had to strengthen my contract to stress rules and regulations
4. I now won't allow dogs unless they are crate trained and under 30#. And even then, I'm careful to screen the owner. EVERYBODY says their dog is well behaved. I've had major problems with dogs barking and howling when the owners leave them in the houses to go shopping, etc.
5. I will get references when I can and have red flags about guests who complained about previous lodging.
6. I will not respond to inquiring potential guests who won't provide telephone numbers.
7. I tend to discourage renting to folks with children younger than teenagers. I try to explain the the houses are vintage cottages and not child-friendly and usually this discourages them. In my state, I learned that if you do your own renting of your own home, you can pick and choose who you want to rent to. But if you go through an agent, like a property manager or a realtor, you cannot discriminate regarding children. Luckily two out of three of my cottages are small with max occupancy of 2, so this usually isn't a big issue with me.
8. Seasonal renters do not have automatic right to return the following year unless they pay me a deposit. Otherwise it's first come first served. It is amazing how many people book ahead for the following season while they are here on vacation. One of the problem ladies I mentioned above had a fit two years ago when I rented to someone else for the following season without giving her first right of refusal. This year I gave both of those wack job women the first right of refusal. Luckily one of them decided to buy a house so she's not coming back. The other decided to come back (the one who trespassed and took the bike) but when she was late sending me a deposit despite me giving her an extension of a month, I cancelled her reservation. I expect that she'll be leaving me a blisteringly nasty review any day now. She had no idea how many rules she broke and how annoying of a guest she was.
I hope some of this helps. I wish I was more positive about this business but now I sort of dread when season rolls around. People are definitely getting more difficult to deal with.
Ok, I am going to add to this. After 2 years of terrific rentals, we finally got the renters that you are all talking about here. Our house was gutted and redone in 2011, so you would think that everything was in perfect order, right? Well, here is a list of complaints in the 1st *WEEK* of their stay. Water comes out too slowly in the clothes washer, come fix it. ??? How fast should it run? Can someone tell me? I can't turn off the fan. Did you pull the cord on the fan? No..oh is that how you turn it off? Daylight savings time started, can you come over and change the clocks in the house? There is a loop in the rug in the office that has come up, it needs to be glued down. The box of baking soda in the refrigerator needs to be changed. The filter on the vent on the microwave needs to be changed. There are ants outside, you need to call an exterminator. Yes, I know there are ants outside, that is where they live.One of the many plugs in the house doesn't work, and we need "that" plug to work. Ok, it wasn't working, the connection was loose so I give them that one. Now, I live 60 miles from this house, and have gone over 3 times to take care of these items. My handyman went once, for the plug, and to make sure that eveything else was ok, just incase, for which I get to pay him $80 for the service call regardless. I go over the house with a fine tooth comb before I rent, but rather than be on vacation it seems that they have found time to serch the house for problems. This morning I woke to find another email about something else that needs to be replaced. They know I am going on vacation and said it was no rush, but as soon as I get back, could I come over and fix it. (The microwave air filter replacement). I imagine as I am on vacation that I am going to get a slew of things that need "fixing", like oh let's see...the leaves need to be raked, the gate creaks when you open it, the flowers need water...I don't know. Thank God they are only here 2 more weeks and I am on vacaiton for 10 days of it. Out of the country. I am going to have to go over my rental agreement and try to find a way to include things that are "emergency" fix it items and things that will be taken care of within, let's say 2 weeks, if it does not "adversely" affect their vacation stay. I am really afraid of asking for a review of the house when they leave. I think I will just skip it.
sliver2907 - Sounds like you have a guest that just isn't going to be satisfied with anything. However, one thing I do is keep extra lightbulbs and extra filters in easy access. My guests have the IQ to change them theirselves and do so. Yours don't seem to have this quality and I don't think they would do it anyway. Know this is rental 101.
Now be prepared for the discount question. How much are you going to refund them for their problems and inconvienece.
I have found that when you have guests who vacation at your home and spends their days looking for any little problem whatever, their ultimate goal is to get a reduction in rent.
I once had to vacuum an outdoor floor mat to please a guest. After I finished they wanted to know what I would refund them for the dirty outdoor mat. Would love to hear what your guests will do.
That is my biggest fear, that they are making a paper trail to get a refund, or God forbid, a dispute with the Credit card company. Lucky for me they paid last year, so they may be past the CC limit for dispute and anyway, what are they going to say to them? We rented and the baking soda needed changing so we want our money back? Not going to happen. Anyway, with my job, I have free time to go to small claims court should any renter pull that trick on me.
Wow, and I thought I had it bad! One thing I'm strongly considering is hiring an experienced local property management company to help me with emergencies and little nuisances like this. I have spoken to one and they will handle this for 10% of the rental fee. I do the booking and initial communication, but all "problems" are turned over to the local agency. This might be an option for you if you can find someone like this. The one agency I have spoken with has experience with "needy" tenants and knows how to explain what is reasonable and what is not. It might be something for you to consider as well, especially since your rentals are at such a distance.
The baking soda in the refrigerator is bad. Really!? Good grief.
Unfortunately fighting the credit card company may not be in your favor unless you have detailed stipulations in your rental agreement. It is your word against theirs and unfortunately, the credit card company vies with the card holder most of the time. We do not take credit cards for this reason. In another business I have seen how easy it is for a card holder to dispute charges whether they are right or wrong. I would rather lose the rental than to fight the charges down the road . 99 per cent of my rentals have no issues, it is the one percent that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.