11 Replies Latest reply: Dec 10, 2018 3:59 PM by green_mango RSS

    Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee

    heartinthesmokies Contributor

      We are all afraid of taking monies from a guest's  Refundable Damage Deposit resulting in a bad review so we suck it up.  This is not my idea, wish it was, I think it could be brilliant. I am considering this in my Agreement. 


      My cabin is 3 bedroom 4 bath and I had my damage deposit at $350.00.  I have only had to deduct 3 times in 6 years but there were times I wish I had the cojones and would have deducted. My guest overall have been very respectful of my cabin.  I think lowering my deposit and adding the non refundable property damage Protection fee of $69.00 and putting into a pot for the time I may need it may alleviate my concern "do I deduct or don't I deduct".  I will say I hate confrontations.  


      DEPOSIT/FEE A refundable security deposit of $175.00 required and held by VRBO until inspection of the cabin post departure. A non-refundable property damage protection fee of $69.00 is required to cover up to $1200.00 in damage to the cabin/contents over the initial $175.00 refundable security deposit. The deposit and property damage protection fee are NOT applied to the rent. The $175.00 security deposit will be returned approximately 3-5 days after departure (depending on your credit card company) providing the following provisions are met: 

      a. No damage is done to the cabin, its contents, or the premises.

      b. Excessive dirtiness results in a $50.00/hour extra clean time with pictures provided.

      c. No bedding, towels, or décor are damaged or missing.

      d. No furniture or décor have been moved.

      e. Check-out instructions are followed (found on page 3).

      f. No illegal drugs, fireworks or firearms are allowed on the property. Possession or evidence   of these items will lead to full loss of deposit and possible eviction from cabin.

      g. No pets: We love our pets, but cannot allow them due to cleanliness, and guests with pet allergies. Evidence of pets (including, but not limited to pet hair, smell, etc.) will result in forfeiture of full $175.00 security deposit.

      h. No smoking of any kind: Please do NOT throw butts or other smoking paraphernalia in the woods, driveway, or decks. Sand buckets are provided on the decks. Evidence of smoking in the cabin will result in forfeiture of full $175.00 security deposit.   

            i. No more than the maximum of 8 guests. Evidence of more than eight will result in forfeiture of full $175.00 security deposit.

        Need some pros and cons of this.What do you all think???

      BTW:  The Property Damage Protection would be added in VRBO fee as a Property Fee

        • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
          margaret CommunityAmbassador

          There are some owners who are doing this successfully. I believe most owners who "self insure' eliminate the damage deposit completely or give the guests an option to pay a high damage deposit or the damage protection fee. You can use the search bar at the top of the page to find discussions on this subject. I have thought about trying it myself over the years.

          • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
            greggt Senior Contributor

            So far I have not had an issue with HA holding the Damage Deposit but I must admit I am nervous about it. Another factor is the ability of a guest to charge us back with the chances being 95% they would be successful.

            I will wait until I get burned before I change to a non-refundable fee as I like the idea of a guest having something on the line even though a few will fib or camo an issue as not to get charged. That method certainly bears consideration considering the lack of control we presently face.

            • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
              scowol Active Contributor

              Thanks for sharing your agreement and idea.  After reading your post, I mulled this over for my own rentals.  I think it's a valid consideration since immature guests will now write a retaliatory review when they learn that their damage deposit is being withheld.


              A few thoughts:  You might want to align your verbiage with the HA verbiage for the Damage Deposit. (HomeAway refers to it as a Damage Deposit).  IMO, a "security deposit" is more aligned to a monthly rental tenant/landlord situation, not a vacation rental.


              On line "i" my attorney had me use the word "discovery" vs. "evidence."  For example, you may see 50 people in the house, but didn't take pics.  W/o the pics, you have no evidence. So use discovery to cover yourself for a broader way to recoup violations.


              P.S. As others have said, this topic comes up so frequently. The timeframe of the damage assessment and two-way review process being exactly the same (14 days) is problematic for the very reason of the topic of your post. For example, if you post a review on the date of checkout, the 14-day clocks starts for the guest to leave a review. Meanwhile, the longest you can hold onto a damage deposit is 14 days.   There's no sure fire way to escape a retaliatory review.    HA should close the review process prior to the damage deposit assessment timeframe.  That would guarantee that there could be no retaliatory review for withholding a portion of the damage deposit.  But there's been no movement to acknowledge or adjust this.

              Review guidelines from the Help section:  Both the travelers and the property owner have 14 days to write your review once a review is submitted by either party. You have one year to submit your review of your stay at the vacation rental, assuming that the property owner has not already submitted their review and initiated the 14-day blind period. Once both parties have submitted their reviews or the 14 days are up, neither party will be able to edit what they have written.

              • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
                vrdoctor Senior Contributor

                You should definitely specify that the $69 fee covers up to $1000 in ACCIDENTAL damage and does not cover negligence, intentional damage, or any damage caused due to rules violations.  Part of having a strong rental agreement and a security deposit is that it makes the guest have some skin in the game.  I would also take a larger security deposit in addition to the $69 non-refundable fee.

                • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
                  green_mango Active Contributor

                  Here's what I do - I require the insurance *and* I reserve the right to require a damage deposit for larger groups.  I've had to withhold just a couple times, and I don't let the worry of a bad review stop me - I handle it all professionally, and if they leave me a bad review, then so be it, and I would respond professionally.  So far none of the guests have left a review. 


                  For the insurance, I don't self-insure or use CSA (the VRBO upsell) - I use ARDI TravelGuard which is less expensive, doesn't require the guest to "agree" that they did the damage, and has paid out on several claims to me.  I tried the self-insure route for a little under a year, but I'm pretty low volume and wasn't building up enough to cover anything major - and I just sort of realized that if a guest did $1,000 of damage then I would *not* want that coming out of my pocket after all.  Thankfully, when my built-in microwave went out during a guest's stay I had the ARDI plan which paid out the max $3,000 - would have taken me a lot of self-insuring to get back up to that.

                    • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
                      heartinthesmokies Contributor

                      Thanks green_mango. Your plan sounds better, I was concerned that my plan wouldn't build up very fast to cover damage.  I went to the website and read it over.  They do not cover pet damage on a non pet friendly property so do you have an additional refundable damage deposit for pets, non smoking etc.  Do you have to fill out the form every time you book a guest?    Do they pay for it or do you?  Do you add verbiage to your Agreement or is this just between you and ARDI?


                      IF and when you have some time could you please give me the steps you use for implementing this plan.  


                      Sorry for all the questions but I do like this better than my self-insuring and would like to proceed.


                      Thanks again.


                      BTW:  I will try and find some discussion on this topic.

                        • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
                          green_mango Active Contributor

                          I am a pet friendly home, though I haven't claimed any pet damage.  I sometimes have a refundable damage deposit, sometimes I don't - just depends on the dogs and guests.  I do have to fill out the form for each booking - and I have to do it for *all* bookings - you agree not to 'cherry pick' which bookings you buy it for.  I pay for it myself - in the past I had guests buy the CSA plan and pay for it themselves, but it took extra time for me to follow up and make sure they paid - so I prefer this as I can be sure it's done.  I choose the $49 plan and add $50 to each reservation for the ARDI Property Damage Protection - I have a little info in my contract about it just saying in general anything that's not covered is Guest's responsibility & to please let me know asap if anything is damaged so that I can take care of it quickly. 

                        • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
                          heartinthesmokies Contributor

                          Sorry mango....  I did find your information on another thread.  If you have anything new I would love that.


                          PS... A thought.....  you pay by credit card and it helps your mileage points for flying up to those great ole Smokies. 

                        • Re: Idea on a Property Damage Protection Fee
                          calicalling Active Contributor

                          I do a refundable deposit of $500 per condo plus a $59 fee (I don't call it insurance, but rather 'unintentional damage waiver fee.' (I've read that there are specific legal meanings and requirements for 'insurance' which I do not meet, since I am not a licensed insurer.) I use this fee to fund an account for repairs.


                          I also charge a deposit because it creates a need for the guest to treat our homes with care. In the years I've done this, and the bazillion guests I've hosted, I've never actually had to keep even a portion of the deposit, as I see the damage fund as a way to take care of issues that some other owners might charge against the deposit. I have gotten 2 questions about this in the last year (a negligible percentage of our inquiries). I've explained that the fee covers unintentional damage but that the security deposit is there in the unlikely case that damage is not determined to be unintentional. In both cases, the guests have gone on to book and accepted this double protection system.


                          Hope that helps.