22 Replies Latest reply: Jul 15, 2019 6:21 AM by planthealth RSS

    Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?

    twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

      ha-moderator-christi can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy or where someone stays past the check-out time? I was under the impression that all deposits held by HA would only be disbursed to the owner for “damage” alone? Please advise....thank you (or any other issue, pets not allowed, etc.

       

      (p.s. we aren’t attacking you, we are just a little frustrated by guests who continue to break rules and are trying to find solutions....we appreciate YOU and this Forum)

        • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
          ha-moderator-christi HomeAway Employee

          Here's what I know on the subject Vrbo's teams and credit card companies are more likely to side with an owner holding parts of a deposit if it is spelled out in the house rules. ie excessive electricity/ water use, over-occupancy, excessive cleaning. I'm very much a cover your self kind of person so I say spell it out is your best bet.

          • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
            linky17 Active Contributor

            Might be useful to review this article >  Keeping Damage Deposits vs. Charging Fines .  You, too ha-moderator-Christi.  Note the clear delineation of what constitutes 'damage' versus how/when one might assess 'fees.'  This was posted some time ago, but likely still stands true.

             

            As well -- and rather to rely on supposition -- probably best to consult with a real estate attorney well-versed in STRs + the locale of yours.

            • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
              thaxterlane Premier Contributor

              Check if there are any laws regarding withholding security deposits for short term rentals in your state/locale.  I wouldn't depend on the platform(s) alone to inform your rental agreement or policies.

               

              There are typically very specific laws regarding long term rentals, but short term rentals may have different regulations or be totally exempt from regulation.

               

              Consulting an attorney may be in order.

                • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
                  ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                  I have to agree with thaxterlane.  My VR is in North Carolina.  The NC code is very clear about what a "security deposit" and "damage deposit" may be used for.  For example, I can collect for long distance phone calls (haha), but I can not collect the amount listed in my RA for late departure penalties in the way of additional cleaning fees from the damage deposit unless I can prove actual damages.

                   

                  When I was taking payment information myself, I had a record of the guest credit card and a signed contract with specific agreed upon and initialed statements that I could charge that card for damages and certain penalties.  HA/VRBO took that "insurance" away with their insistence on us being paid through Yapstone.  Very seldom will a guest provide credit card information to me so that they meet the terms of my RA.  They have already given that information to HA, and do not understand that it is no longer available to me, the actual "merchant". That is why my larger properties will no longer be offered through Vrbo. 

                   

                  The moderators do not know the laws of each and every state that we do business in and cannot advise us properly.  Homeowners need to learn the rules of their own states and be responsible for properly conducting their business. Do not rely upon HA or Vrbo to do it for you.

                    • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
                      twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                      That is very wise advice but HA is holding the deposit and can ultimately decide regardless of the laws to give back to the guest. To me taking that control away and the ability to decide what is legal and proper from the owner was a big deal. It isn’t about the “money” or the “float” it is about being made “whole” in a legal way when there is an issue that arises for compensation.

                       

                      Someone stated that it was about the “float”...which maybe for HA it is, but for me it is about having the ability to secure my property with a financial amount that “may” offset any issues, whether damage, over occupancy, additional pets, checking out late, etc. If we are legally able to retain funds for guests who have not complied with “all” of our rules, not just damage maybe the attitude of guests will change to realize we do have some teeth to support our rules. Remember I said “maybe”

                        • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
                          thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                          How can a platform make a decision which goes against the laws of the locale/state?  All property owners must follow the laws which govern their property.  I would expect a short term rental listing platform can't operate outside the law  . .  Is there an exception pertaining to online platforms which exempts following the local codes, regulations, and laws?  I wouldn't think so, but what do I know? 

                            • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
                              twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                              I probably did not make my comment clear. If the law "could" be in favor of the owner as in keeping money back for extra people or a pet, However, HA may choose to still reimburse the guest if there was no damage caused by this particular event. While I am not suggesting they would break the law, but giving back a deposit even in violation of the agreement within an allowed law is not necessarily an issue in law unless the owner sues HA and I don't believe anyone would consider that for a few hundred dollars. I believe the courts would then state it was a legal issue between HA and the owner, not the guest.

                               

                              Does that make it any clearer? Probably not.....hopefully my point is that if we are not in the position of making the final decision of the deposit one way or the other, then our issue is no longer with the guest, it is with HA who IS making the final decision.

                               

                              Do we know if HA sends these types of disputes to their legal department to hash out to be in legal compliance with each state? I don't know that answer, but if yes, then no issues, but if no????

                                • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
                                  thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                  Got it.  I don't know how an owner protests against return of rent or security deposit when a guest has violated the rental agreement but the platform acquiesces to the guest's demands.

                                   

                                  This is why I am not listed on any of the major platforms at this time.

                                   

                                  I delisted from vrbo/homeaway, flipkey/tripadvisor, and airbnb (listed for exposure only, with completely blocked calendar).

                                   

                                  I can't cede control of my best policies and practices to a listing platform. And, I won't admit a third party to the rental of my property to guests. 

                                   

                                  I was listed on vrbo, homeaway and flipkey for many years, and they were very successful years, but I fled when the first "improvements", which did not work for my property, were introduced.

                        • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
                          ha-moderator-christi HomeAway Employee

                          Vrbo doesn't enforce the laws in every local. Vrbo does ask that owners abide by their local laws. Vrbo simple says when it comes to a claim of a deposit being wrongfully held if it's in the house rules, the traveler has agreed to it when they booked and stand behind the owner. If it's not in the house rules we ask the owner to give the money back to the traveler.  If it comes down to the traveler taking the owner to court it would be up to the owner to prove in a court of law they were lawful in keeping the deposit.

                          • Re: Can an owner use the deposit for over-occupancy, extended stays, etc?
                            ha-moderator-christi HomeAway Employee

                            Currently, they look at house rules and rental agreements. I've been with HomeAway/Vrbo for a long time and have worked with our customer service for most of that time. I want to be able to give y'all as much information as possible there are however times my hands are tied as to what I can say or what any moderator can say for that matter. On a side note I grew up in a real estate office my mom was a PM and put me to work every chance she got. I understand how complicated rental laws can be and how they vary from one location to the next.