It will depend how clearly you stated on the number of guests and consequences of breaking the agreement and stated that extra guests who were not listed on the contract will be deduct from your security deposit.
Make sure your, listing on HomeAway/VRBO states your rules clearly and add them to the description as well.
(I think a PDF copy of your agreement should be on the site as well)
Your agreement, should be iron clad and very clearly written.
You should send the contract via your email, and It should be initialed on each page, and at any very important points, and a complete list of the names and ages on the last page.
The signed contract, should match, the reservation name and the payment name, along with a copy of a government issued Picture ID.
I would also, see if you can alter your cameras/plug so as not be able to be tampered with.
Last but not least, we are building a case for HomeAway/VRBO, cc companies and small claims courts to side with you, should you need any them to do so.
I am assuming you are an absentee owner? If so, it would be worth having a person nearby who you can pay to do a check when your rented or for "emergency" reasons. And let all your guests know that you have someone who is your help for any issues. Its not spying.
Remember its your property, they are guests, its your liability, they will come after you, and your investment.
Guests like these do not care about their agreement, your property or you.
Never, never put yourself at risk, more than you have too.
By not having someone greet them or check on them after their arrival, you have put yourself at their mercy.
You must have them believe they have to be accountable, and it worth, paying someone to be your eyes and ears.
If I'm understanding your post correctly > that you "never uploaded a rental agreement on VRBO and rented the house out?" Chances are that there is nothing that can be done re: withholding any/or all of the "$1500 security deposit." (It's worth noting, too, that many states + municipalities have in-effect actual laws that regulate 'security' vs. 'damage' deposits, and that also stipulate applicable conditions for legitimate claims. But maybe you know this.)
Did this family pay the "$1500 security deposit?" AND ~ Were 'penalties' for violation(s) of same defined + monetized > within your "House Rules?"
You say that your listing caps Guests at 8 people. Is that # specified in your "House Rules?" You mention "2 additional boats." Does that mean that the other " 3 boats" are permissible > within your "House Rules?" Same question re: the # of cars?
Lastly, does your listing disclose the presence of the "outdoor security cameras?"
Yes I see I will have to make things more iron clad. I guess I never expected this. Although if its all in writing and iron clad the only enforcement maybe taking them to court. Any sometime that could just be more aggravation. As I stated in the other reply I will let you know what the Monroe county clerk says about a officer actually backing up the landlord and making a vacationer leave. Or if they say its civil and you have to evict. I believe it is a valuable piece of information to give the owners some power in making these people comply.
Well I am learning here. I do know this . A lawyer once told me you can argue anything in court. And really paying lawyers kind of defeats the purpose.
So today I realized it doesn't matter what one says on this site. It will be up to the law enforcement officer if they would actually make a person leave and you refund them the rest. I know from being a landlord that the eviction process takes about 3 weeks when you do it yourself. Hiring a lawyer would probably take longer since he is not in no huge hurry and has other cases. I once had a squatter in one of my rentals and the officer sided right with the squatter. He said I had to evict. My buddy once said you could ask 6 officers a question and get 6 different answers. So today I called the Monroe county sheriffs department to see if I ever needed to have a vacationer leave would they back me up or would they say it is a civil matter and I would have to evict them. The dispatcher had a officer call me. I was quite surprised to find out he did not know. The officer was a licensed real estate agent and was not sure. A hotel or motel they can make you leave on the spot. A house tenant you have to evict but he was not sure about a vacation rental. He advised me to call the clerk of the courts Monday. And if the reply was in my favor to have them email it to me. He advised me to keep it with me incase a office was called out that I could show them. So point being once a person is in that vacation rental I am not sure if you could even get them out with out evicting them. Its a shady area. And if you cant well your at the mercy of the vacationer. Until you have your house back. If you have no power to make them leave legally on the spot then it is extremely difficult to enforce the house rules.
Personally I would be a lot more concerned with the actual condition of the home upon there departure, than the amount of guests. You can have great families that might sleep 12 and clean up after themselves, and a group of 4 that completely trash your place. Hopefully they left it in nice shape for you. But disconnecting the camera feed is a negative for me.
You've made two big mistakes: not specifying what happens when people go over capacity. That alone makes your ability to fine the guests difficult for breaking what they may have considered a minor infraction. And then, you worsen your position by installing cameras to watch them, and not tell them immediately they are in violation of the terms.
Now, as you decide what to do, realize that a blistering review will cost you way more than the $1500 that you might keep. And you should expect a terrible review if you charge them $1500 for something you did not let them remedy when you were aware of the problem. Sad reality, but sometimes it's better to just eat the added costs of the extra guests and hope for a good review -- and never have those people back.
As for that added cost -- what are your losses related to the extra guests? A little more in utilities, maybe a little more wear and tear? Unless they trash the place (which has nothing to do with occupancy, and everything to do with damage) you would likely have a hard time defending yourself if the guest wanted to sue you for the fines you might impose.
Call this a learning experience. Fix your contract to explain that added guests result in fines or immediate eviction so you have a leg to stand on.
I am sure the condition of the home will be a deciding factor before I do anything. And yes next time it will be all written out. The review thing well I may just stick to the annual rentals. The hassle of all this may not be worth the money
I have delt with annual rentals for 15 years. Or just raise the rate extremely hi on that house. If it rents fine...if not thats fine .
Only you can do the math and weigh the pros and cons.
I don't need to rent my cabin either but I also can't live there and I like to use it myself sometimes so STR is the way for me.
And the math works in my favor too. I could rent it LT for MAYBE $1,500/month. I made $6,000 in july doing STR. That's math even a common core graduate can understand :-)