66 Replies Latest reply: Sep 19, 2019 10:35 AM by hmmmm RSS

    How do I protect my property from damage?

    amanda_ha HomeAway Employee

      House Rules:

      Also make sure your House Rules section is fully completed to let your guests know what your rules are on maximum occupancy, minimum age of primary renter if you allow events, children, smoking, and pets. Providing signage on items that might require instruction and leaving a copy of house rules in a visible area of the vacation rental can also help your guests remember your house rules.


      If you use HomeAway Payments and want to include a damage deposit, you can select a one or a combination of two methods mentioned below within the rates section of your listing:


      Property Damage Protection:
      With this option, you provide guests a choice between a low-cost property damage policy that covers accidental damages, where you will be the beneficiary or a refundable damage deposit that's equivalent to the full policy coverage amount that you select.
      To learn more about Property Damage Deposit and the different policy coverage options, click here.

      Refundable Damage Deposit:
      This is the amount that you require for a refundable damage deposit. You can set this to be any value you choose. It can be used separately or in conjunction with Property Damage Protection option mentioned above.


      Read the full article here for more information on avoiding property damage.

        • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
          ambidextrous Active Contributor

          Well, this is an interesting post, and for the new kids in the room, here's something to think about:

           

          When you choose to allow Expedia to sell your guest an insurance policy that reimburses you for damage they may cause, the guest has paid to relieve themselves of liability in the event they break a few things. So before you choose this option, realize that the guest is no longer financially motivated to behave themselves (after all, they don't get the insurance premium back if there is no damage). This practice does not protect your property from damage. It pays you back for your repairs.

           

          Alternately, if you are holding a chunk of the guest's money they'll not see again if they mess up your home, they have an interest in keeping your home nice. So, if you are really interested in preventing damage, this is only one option.

           

          Finally, keep in mind that if you do have expenses related to damage, in one case, you need to file a claim, in the other, you simply keep the money. When you have a damage deposit, there is no paperwork, no delay, and you are the person who decides whether to "pay" yourself the claim. HA is going to be slow to point all of this out since as the sellers of the insurance policies, they make money every time you sell "Property Damage Protection".

           

          Y'all be careful our there.

            • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
              wildiris Active Contributor

              Well said!  To expand further (for those who are unfamiliar with how the Property Damage Protection works), the guest is the insured under the policy, not the owner.  If the guest denies causing any damage, the policy will not pay.  Also, the policy only covers accidental damage.  If the guest admits to causing damage but it is deemed to be intentional (such as throwing a beer can through the screen of your television), the policy will not pay.

              • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                u0999 Premier Contributor

                To add (even more) important points: the policy HA sells:

                1. Is in the name of guest, not owner.

                2. Guest has to ADMIT the damage for policy to pay

                3. Even if guest admits damage, but the damage was intentional or in violation of your rental agreement (i.e your rental agreement says no pets, guest brings dog anyway, dog chews the rug), policy won't pay.

                 

                If you want to use damage policy, use the one like ARDI (can be bought via Ownerrez , IVOL etc) - that policy is on owner's name and guest does NOt have to admit to damage for policy to pay.

              • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                aspenj201 Contributor

                Dear homeowners,

                 

                We rent our unit in Aspen, Co.

                 

                We book a rental for 4 weeks with 2 guys from Miami this past July.

                Two weeks into their stay, we discovered they had a dog staying in our unit.  It was discovered accidentally by our real estate broker who walked in to show our unit.

                Our condo has been listed for sale for some time. She has been in our unit for countless times.

                 

                A long story short, we had to ask those guys and a dog to vacate our unit ASAP after three weeks of stay.  It was suggested by Homeaway homeowner support team.

                They even said if they do not leave immediately, call the police to ask their assistance in evicting them.

                 

                Why did we have to do that?  Well,  we discovered the so-called service dog was urinating all over our unit. Our broker kept saying there are wet spots all over the unit.

                We were not sure what they were first because we did not know there was a dog staying our unit.  When we mentioned the discovery of the dog to the renters, one of them replied he forgot to mention to us before we booked them and it was a service dog.  As you know, we cannot even ask if the dog is actually a service dog legally, which is a BS.

                 

                After their exit, we discovered that the dog ate a corner of one of the window blind.  Also, those two guys were smoking marijuana inside of our unit.

                 

                We now have to replace the carpet because the stink of the urine could not be taken out by the professional carpet cleaning company our management company used.

                We had to also replace the window blind and now, we are looking into replacing the sofa they damaged.

                 

                The best part is the property damage protection that HomeAway offers is useless. Yes, it is. If the renters, which are the policyholder, denies doing any damage, the CSA will not cover the damage. You as a homeowner will not have a chance to even rebuttal. The person I spoke with said "they are not a detective agency. It is not their job to see who actually did the damage."

                 

                We now only offer the refundable damage deposit.

                 

                We will also stop renting through HomeAway ASAP.  They are not going to help you, homeowners, either.  So far, the renter got their way in every way as Homeaway travelers team deducted the fees covered those days after they got kicked out.

                  • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                    martyp Contributor

                    Can't you file a suit against them and collect from the HomeAway $1,000,000 liability policy that comes with the rental? 

                    • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                      feibus Senior Contributor

                      I would most definitely consider suing the guests for excess damage to your home caused by the dog.  Doesn't matter if it's a service dog or not, the dog's damage is the owner's responsibility.

                       

                      So... file a claim in the venue where your rental agreement says you do that, then serve the guest with notice of the court proceeding... and the guest will probably send you a check instead of fighting and losing in court.

                       

                      That is... as long as you've documented the damage done and the costs to repair.

                        • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                          aspenj201 Contributor

                          We have a dozen or more photos that were taken by our management company.  They were taken the day those renters left.  In fact, right after they left.

                           

                          We even had to take our unit off the market to sell.

                           

                          Renting through your property, especially a high-end one like ours, are extremely dangerous because you are simply not protected by Homeaway whatsoever.  If you only offer the refundable deposit, you can only ask so much. If it is too high, then you will not be able to rent it.

                           

                          We know where the renters work.  We know the home address of the renter who had a fake service dog.  The dog obviously was left int he unit alone for him to do such extensive dagame.  If it were actually a service dog, why was it not with him at all times???

                           

                          Either way, we are forced to make a claim at the Aspen court. 

                            • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                              feibus Senior Contributor

                              Owner could have been there, but stoned.  Hard to know for certain.  But yeah, the gap between damage deposit and your own insurance policy is small claims court wherever your RA says you can file a claim.  Then it's up to the guest to defend himself or give up and pay you.  Most will just pay.

                               

                              If he leaves a bad review, just note in your response that the damage from the guest and his poorly trained service dog was so extensive you had to take him to court to recover the costs of repair.

                               

                              Expecting the booking platform to truly cover you in case of a bad guest, that's not going to happen.  Your rental agreement is the most important protection you have, followed by the damage deposit and your insurance.  After that, the courts can help sometimes, depending on if you had all your documentation in place.

                              • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                u0999 Premier Contributor

                                again, I am sorry to hear this. I read this "Renting through your property, especially a high-end one like ours, are extremely dangerous because you are simply not protected by Homeaway whatsoever. " - correct, HA does NOT protect the owner, and never had, to my knowledge. I am sorry this comes as a surprise, HA sort of created an implied assumption among owners that it does (which not true). Owner must protect themselves (as much as possible, nothing is 100%) by having iron clad rental agreement, screening practices, deposit, and also INDEPENDENT damage insurance (not CSA) if necessary.

                              • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                martyp Contributor

                                Replacing a carpet is expensive; I agree with feibus and file a claim.  As has already been stated, it is likely that the travelers will pay ... or not show up in court.  If they do show up in court, they would have difficulty presenting a defense.

                                 

                                I would ALSO consider including HomeAway in the claim due to your sentence: "So far, the renter got their way in every way as Homeaway travelers team deducted the fees covered those days..."


                                 

                                  • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                    aspenj201 Contributor

                                    Yes, so far, the renters are not responsible for any damage whatsoever.

                                    I just found out the monetary damage is $8600 to make the unit get back to what it was before they rented.

                                     

                                    The shocker is, as I mentioned, Homeaway is trying to reimburse for those days that they did not stay in our unit after getting kicked out.

                                    Where is the justice in this???  If the lying scum of those renters denied doing any damages, that is what they go by.

                                      • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                        martyp Contributor

                                        That amount probably exceeds a small claims court and you would have to hire an attorney.  The good and bad of the cost of hiring an attorney is that the sum is large enough to justify the hiring of an attorney.  The attorney can also give you advice on including HomeAway.  All of the actions that HomeAway has taken of separating the owner from the traveler could lead to a justification that HomeAway is a re-seller.

                                         

                                        I feel your pain; I had a long term guest that destroyed my carpet to the point where it had to  be replaced.  I feel your pain.

                                        • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                          feibus Senior Contributor

                                          For other owners reading this: THIS THIS THIS is exactly why you need a signed rental agreement that has been created by a real estate lawyer local to where your rental is located.

                                           

                                          It's for when you need it to enforce your rights.

                                           

                                          As for this claim, talk to your insurance company about it as well, since it's damage during the normal operation of your VR.

                                        • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                          aspenj201 Contributor

                                          Yes, indeed.

                                           

                                          We are sick about it.

                                           

                                          Just know that the insurance HomeAway offers would not pay you ANYTHING if the policyholder/the renter denies doing any damages.

                                      • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                        psphoto Active Contributor

                                        I would be careful here......IF you are evicting a guest because they brought a service dog, you could open yourself up to some legal consequences.

                                        What does your contract say? Does it state a guest can be EVICTED for any visible damage? I other words, what does the contract state in terms of causes for immediate eviction? If it only states that guests will pay for any damage, but nothing about immediate eviction...you could be liable for paying for their stay elsewhere.

                                        On the Property Damage Protection issue, as I've stated earlier, the held security deposit is the hammer that owners should use to get guests to file a damage claim, i.e. if they don't file with the insurance company and admit they caused damage, they don't get their deposit back from the owner. If they do file, and the insurance company pays for the damage, then they get it back.

                                        Just because a guest has taken out the Property Damage Protection, DOESN'T mean you shouldn't take a security damage deposit!

                                          • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                            aspenj201 Contributor

                                            What we think is the dog was left behind a lot for him to urinate all over the uni and eating one of the window blind.

                                            Does not matter if the dog was actually a service animal or not.  The point is what he did to our unit.  The damage was done one way or the other by this animal.  That is what the faithful HomeAway owner's support team told us.

                                            All the other service dog was housetrained.  We have NEVER had any problem with them.

                                            If the renter was honest and mentioned that he was coming with an animal, we would have requested for the refundable deposit.

                                            HE NEVER SAID ABOUT THE DOG.  he lied and lied from the getgo.

                                              • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                psphoto Active Contributor

                                                aspenj201 wrote:

                                                 

                                                What we think is the dog was left behind a lot for him to urinate all over the uni and eating one of the window blind.

                                                Does not matter if the dog was actually a service animal or not.  The point is what he did to our unit.  The damage was done one way or the other by this animal.  That is what the faithful HomeAway owner's support team told us.

                                                All the other service dog was housetrained.  We have NEVER had any problem with them.

                                                If the renter was honest and mentioned that he was coming with an animal, we would have requested for the refundable deposit.

                                                HE NEVER SAID ABOUT THE DOG.  he lied and lied from the getgo.

                                                It all rests on what damage was done, and what your response to the damage was. You need specific language in your contract to cover this. If a guest accidentally damaged something in the house...would you evict them? How much and what type of damage? Does your contract state that all dogs, including service dogs, are to be reported in advance?

                                                We allow dogs in our Vrbo property, knowing full well that occasionally one will urinate on a carpeted area. We professionally clean our carpets often, and use a special type of carpet and pad that resists "accidents". We don't see that as reason to evict...although we state other very specific reasons we can do so.

                                                The one thing they did that would preclude them from claiming a "service dog" exemption to a no pets rule was leaving the dog alone.

                                                From: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.pdf

                                                 

                                                "Are hotel guests allowed to leave their service animals in their hotel room when they leave the hotel?"

                                                "A: No, the dog must be under the handler’s control at all times."

                                                 

                                                  • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                    aspenj201 Contributor

                                                    It is one thing a dog urinate accidentally, another is to urinate all over the unit for three weeks to the point it is not cleanable.

                                                    Also, they were smoking inside.  I have pictures of ashes they left on our dining table. We never had to evict ANYONE.  THese people were renters from HELL

                                                      • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                        psphoto Active Contributor

                                                        Understood....I'm just trying to make sure that your contract language is bulletproof in this regard, with very specific reasons a guest can be evicted.

                                                        A general term such as "property damage" might not be enough, especially if you have allowed a guest to stay previously who caused some damage.

                                                        It's risky as well to evict BEFORE you discover the extent of damage.....make sure you document the reasons clearly BEFORE you do it.

                                                        Credit card chargebacks have been successful because language in contracts wasn't specific enough.

                                                        My current contract is 7 pages long for this reason, and requires the guest to initial every page and sign and date the last one.

                                                        Pete

                                                      • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                        aspenj201 Contributor

                                                        Thank you for sending the link.

                                                        Truly a wonder why the dog was left alone in the unit........   MmmmmHmmmmm.

                                                         

                                                        This dog was supposed to be s seizure dog.  Wasn't the renter needed him to be with him all the time???

                                                    • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                      hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                                      But you are entitled to damages, even if they are a service dog.

                                                      And I would check in your state, if they have to disclose that they are bringing a service dog.  I would think so.

                                                    • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                      martyp Contributor

                                                      Considering the cost of damage, the best advice I can give you is to stop listening to us yahoos and interviewing attorneys.  I use the word "interview" because any reputable attorney will give you  certain amount of free interview time so you can determine if you should, 1) follow through with a suit, and 2) determine if he is the best attorney for your needs.

                                                       

                                                      I have only had one situation where an attorney wanted to charge me and up-front $400 for the first interview and that amount would then be applied to the fees he would charge ... I never called him a second time.  I interviewed two other attorneys that gave me a free first interview.

                                                        • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                          aspenj201 Contributor

                                                          Thanks.

                                                           

                                                          I just found out that our property insurance company will pick this up. They are going to go after the renters.

                                                           

                                                          It will be interesting to see what the renters would do.  So far, he has lied and lied till today.

                                                           

                                                          Legally, I was told that we cannot ask for proof of whether the dog is a service animal.  The renters do not have to mention that she/he is bringing the animal either.  Thanks to all those attorneys out there, so that the honest business people will be screwed and the criminals will be smiling and walking off to the sunset.

                                                      • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                        vrdoctor Senior Contributor

                                                        Well the first way would be to have a strong rental agreement and collect the names and ages of everyone staying.  Airlines, cruise lines, resorts all collect this information and only allow those people to stay.  HA and Airbnb should implement a registration form and ask travelers to fill in names and ages as well as uploading an ID that is available to owners to verify.

                                                         

                                                        As far as insurance goes, I fully agree with Abidextrous, you need to collect a security deposit so that guests have a skin in the game.  Regardless of insurance you need to let guests know that the property needs to be left in the same condition as when they checked in (minus normal wear and tear and cleaning of course).

                                                        • Re: How do I protect my property from damage?
                                                          hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                                          I will always take a refundable security/damage deposit.

                                                          ITs the only incentive to be good. 

                                                           

                                                          My mantra:

                                                          Its your liability, its your property, its your loss, treat it like a business, not like an idea of extra money