74 Replies Latest reply: Feb 13, 2020 9:15 AM by ha-moderator-amanda RSS

    Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway

    erika Contributor

      Let me get to the punch line here: VRBO/HA has DELISTED ME, when I am paying them $500 per year to be listed, for enforcing my explicit contract terms in deducting from the guest's security deposit.

       

      VRBO/HA has given me the runaround for weeks, lost the documentation several times, not responded in a timely way to anything, sent non-responsive emails over and over again. At the end of the day, VRBO/HA is basically telling me that I cannot enforce a contract that the guest physically SIGNED. VRBO/HA is telling me that guests can come to my house, sabotage a camera and use the hot tub after 10 pm (risking massive HOA fines and further neighborhood movement to ban vacation rentals), flagrantly disregard our no shoes rule, and leave trash outside our bear bin (a huge cardinal sin in our area, again risking huge fines and destruction to people and wildlife), and he doesn't have to pay anything. He totally gets away with it, and in the future he will be an even more horrible guest to the rest of you. Because he now knows that contracts are meaningless and he can make up his own rules even when he signed the contract.

       

      I do not see any path forward renting my house on VRBO/HA.

       

      Background: I've been renting my one house on VRBO/HA since around 2005. I was always a fan of this company until recent years.

       

      As they began making changes to the payment system, I had some skepticism but at first it was okay. Keep in mind, I don't buy the brainwashing about "safety" of the payments. I accepted payment by check for over a decade and never had a bounced one. Checks are a great way to run a business like this, because the guest SHOULD be worried about losing their security deposit and not being able to do a chargeback. That is exactly the kind of leverage an owner needs to encourage responsible and respectful guest behavior.

       

      I was very concerned about VRBO starting to hold on to security deposits a couple of years ago. As far as I'm concerned, VRBO has NOTHING to say about security deposits and owner contracts.

       

      But it wasn't until the change in payment system last year that I started to get very very concerned. Most of my concern arose out of the reckless language and lack of responsiveness we saw from this once first rate company.

       

      Now, I am not seeing any path forward at all. The quality of guests has been diminishing. VRBO/ HA is attempting to act like Airbnb - a terrible idea - but doesn't have the infrastructure to support this change.

       

      After summer of 2019, during which I mostly hosted VRBO/ HA guests, I returned to my house being absolutely FILTHY. It's not just that the carpets were visibly muddy (despite having "shoes off" in the contract and on signs all over the walls). It was filth. I had to steam clean the carpets about 15 times before things even started to feel clean. Even after the carpets had already been cleaned several times, I was having to change the sheets every two days because I was sleeping in grit and feeling grit in my mouth.

       

      It was obvious that our summer guests flagrantly disregarded our contract and posted signs. And every single one of them got their full security deposit back. There was no funding to have the carpets professionally cleaned 15 times, so I did it. It was exhausting, backbreaking labor that went on for weeks. By the end of it, I wasn't sure I ever wanted to rent my house again.

       

      After this nightmare cleaning my house, I got cameras and revised my contract so I could enforce our rules. Given that VRBO/HA and Air are driving rates down, there is no way to absorb any further labor or costs. Guests MUST PAY FOR WHAT THEY DID, or there is no path forward.

       

      Now VRBO/HA is telling me that I cannot enforce my contract despite dozens of videos of these people walking on the carpets with their shoes on. The carpet is designed to hide dirt, and our contract does not require me to show that the carpets look visibly filthy. This is because the carpets don't show on photos how filthy they are. But if you get the carpet cleaner out, it will after many hours of work pull massive amounts of dirt and debris. If you get a white towel and put it over the carpet and have someone walk on it even once, it will have four huge dirty footprints. When a group of 8-12 people walks on it hundreds of times during a stay, it is filthy. And if you let a few more groups do that, even the air in the cabin is not fit to breathe there is so much dirt in the house. I have written our contract to address our ACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, not the cluelessness of an offshore "customer service" representative who doesn't understand what it's like living in a wilderness area.

       

      The carpets need to be cleaned EVERY TIME guest violate our rules. This is the only way to be fair to our respectful guests. The guests who violated the rules need to pay for that cleaning. We often cannot get outside contractors on short notice, due to being out in the boonies. As well, contractors in our area are not experienced with making sure photos are taken or documenting what they are doing. We need a very simple enforcement that requires payment for carpet cleaning EVERY time a group disregards the clearly posted rules. Yet if VRBO will not enforce this simple and extremely fair way of handling it, then there is no path forward.

       

      As well, if VRBO/HA will not allow me to forfeit security deposits for trash violations, tampering with cameras, using outdoor areas for gatherings after 10 pm, then there is no path forward. I cannot enforce any of these rules if guests know they won't have to pay anything and can get away with it.

       

      Vacation rentals are in danger of being banned in our community, and already have been banned in South Lake Tahoe, exactly because the online booking platforms don't have a clue about respecting owners, neighbors, and communities.

       

      There will never be a "receipt" for people leaving thick marijuana residue in my house, as happened with my last guests. There will never be a "receipt" for leaving trash where bears can get it, endangering themselves and people. There is not a "receipt" for a neighbor getting increasingly annoyed by my house and seeking to shut it down at the HOA or Town level.

       

      If I cannot enforce the fines and fees in my contract, there is no path forward.

        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
          sage Senior Contributor

          VRBO/HA is telling me that I cannot enforce my contract despite dozens of videos of these people walking on the carpets with their shoes on

          Excuse me, but you have video cameras inside the home?

          Regardless of the merits of your complaints, cameras that obtain images of guests inside the home are simply not permissible.

           

          As for the complaint that vrbo is not helping to enforce terms of your contract, I would comment that vrbo is not set up to be a factfinder to adjudicate disputes. To enforce the contract one should look not to vrbo but rather to the courts (or arbitration of the contract so provides).

          • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
            green_mango Active Contributor

            It's my understanding that VRBO doesn't interfere with or make decisions about the damage deposit - It was a long post, but I missed how they overruled your deposit?  Did the guest make a complaint and VRBO sided with the guest? 

             

            It sounds like a different type of carpet may better suit you in a vacation rental?  I've never heard of a carpet being needed to be steam cleaned 15x or carpet being so dirty that the air isn't fit to breathe?

             

            Maybe VRBO sided with the guests because it seems unreasonable to need a carpet steam cleaned 15x due to guests wearing shoes?  How do you know they aren't taking their shoes off inside the door? 

             

            Vaping has a residue, but marijuana should not - I mean I have a strict no smoking rule, but...... 

             

            There is some debate about the legality of withholding "fines" from damage deposits - traditionally, only damage with itemized receipts could be withheld from security/damage deposits, however that's for long term rentals and there's a gray area with short term rentals - bottom line is you can list the fines, but they aren't easily enforceable - that's based on advice from our attorney in CA who helped us with our short term rental contract.  Has your contract been reviewed by an attorney and been found to be legal?  Basically ours said we can list the fines and charge them (just as an HOA does), but it's not necessarily something we can withhold from a damage deposit and will be difficult to collect.

            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
              hmmmm Senior Contributor

              If this is so, its a slippery slope and one should charge a separate fee and remove the refundable  damage deposit.
              This should never be a HA/VRBO, call ever

              • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                I learned a long time ago that guests do not treat my properties the same way that I do.  I appreciate that you want to have your guests remove their shoes before coming into your property, but unless you are there and telling them to take the shoes off, they are going leave them on.

                 

                If you have that much trouble with dirt, grit and grime, change your flooring.  I have mountain properties.  I removed the rugs and installed either wood or tile flooring.  Housekeeping was thrilled to not have to vacuum for hours.

                 

                I am very sorry that Verbo delisted you for trying to have the guest honor your contract.

                 

                (And get rid of the indoor cameras.)

                  • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                    erika Contributor

                    Wow I love people who ask questions before making assumptions.

                     

                    1. The cameras are at the entry ways. It is obvious if people don't take their shoes off at the entry way. Nothing prohibits cameras at entry points of the house. Indeed, such cameras are essential for enforcing occupancy limits etc., which are now mandatory in our community.

                     

                    2. Removing the carpets is not an option. Please stop suggesting it. I also use the home. As well, quite a few of these groups are registering very high on the decibels. If we removed the carpets, our risk of noise complaints would go up substantially. The fines are astronomical. The carpets stay. My house, my rules. If people don't want to take off their shoes, they will either pay the fee or rent another house. Period.

                     

                    3. If people do not remove their shoes, they will, as the contract advises them, need to pay for carpet cleaning. If VRBO will not enforce this according to the terms of the contract (and requires documentation that we cannot routinely provide when we have proof the guests wore their shoes onto the carpet), then I will be doing whatever it takes to direct book my house and VRBO will be a thing of the past for me. VRBO has no clue how to run MY house or adjudicate MY security deposit. If they can't handle issues like this appropriately, they need to give handling payments back to owners. I handled my own payments just fine for over a decade, and my rules, and my security deposits.

                      • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                        u0999 Premier Contributor

                        Not to get in the middle of the carpet/no carpet debate, but  :"then I will be doing whatever it takes to direct book my house and VRBO will be a thing of the past for me". Great, but may I ask you what took you so long? I have been working very hard since 2016 to focus on direct bookings. Each year I get more and more. I have been predicting since late 2015 that there will be a moment that vrbo will become unusable for many owners (in large part because of what went on in your example) - for you this moment has arrived. I hope you can embark on direct booking path and successfully  sustain your business.

                          • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                            erika Contributor

                            Thanks yes you may ask. I was in a 24/7 care-taking role the past few years, heartbreaking stuff. I had no time or bandwidth for website development. And I kept watching ... until now, I was able to run my business as I see fit ...

                             

                            Now it's time to re-group. I already have web hosting for my other business. I already bought a domain name. I am meeting with our Town in the next couple of weeks to suggest they consider banning non-local booking platforms. I am tired of watching all the horrible things that have happened in our communities with Air allowing guests to act like spoiled brats.

                             

                            Now is the time.

                          • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                            wildiris Senior Contributor

                            Our family is in the habit of always removing our shoes in the house.  We don't do this outside, however.  We step inside the house, close the door, and remove our shoes in the hallway or foyer near the door.  So, just because you don't see guests removing their shoes on your exterior cameras doesn't mean that they aren't removing their shoes.

                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                              linky17 Active Contributor

                              *OUCH!* (re: your 2/9/2020 reply) ~  Nowhere in your OP did I read that A) Your "cameras" were in the "entry ways?"  Nor > see any reference/definition of what "entry ways" are, precisely = interior versus exterior, in your locale?

                               

                              OR, B) What your question actually is and/or was to this Community?


                              IMO, sage provided excellent feedback re: the first thing that struck me ~ (per you) "... dozens of videos of these people walking on the carpets with their shoes on."

                               

                              Is this why you were "de-listed?"

                               

                              If not?  Why?

                              • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                I Would just add that I also would “prefer” guests took their shoes off for health reasons and babies crawling on carpets. However, even with an outside entry camera you would not see them step in and remove shoes at the front door when closed? I don’t have any cameras and so obviously can’t enforce my desire to have no shoes on the carpeting, but it sounds like you were delisted because there either are cameras on the inside or vrbo suspects there are cameras on the inside based on what you have stated.

                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                              captmarkhd Senior Contributor

                              So you haven’t been exactly clear on why you were delisted?  We can guess but it would be better for all of us to know exactly the reason and the process, of the delisting. What did Vrbo say exactly about the reason why? Did you escalate the case? 

                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                  erika Contributor

                                  I was supposedly delisted because I had not sent the documentation they asked for. I had, however, sent that documentation. But more to the point, the contract was very clearly written to address our circumstances out here in the boonies. The contract says that we often do the work ourselves, that there will be no outside vendor receipt, and that the fee will be charged for wearing shoes on the carpet. It is not practical in our situation to get outside vendors - who sometimes won't come for weeks. It is not workable to provide photos of the "dirty carpets" because the carpets are designed to hide dirt and vendors up here are not trained nor trainable in documentation. We wrote our contract, and had the guest sign it, based on our actual practical reality here in the wilderness. Now VRBO wants to impose their totally unrealistic requirements AFTER the fact, after the work is already done.

                                   

                                  NO, a thousand times no. We have the guest sign the contract for a reason. The guest agreed they would pay the carpet cleaning fee if they wore shoes on the carpet. The guest's group wore shoes on the carpet over and over again even after being warned. The guest needs to pay the contractually agreed fees.

                                   

                                  It's not just this situation. We have a variety of other fees in the contract for which there will never be an "outside vendor receipt." We must be able to enforce those fees to deter guests from doing things that make the rental unsustainable and/or are getting vacation rentals banned.

                                   

                                  I do not see a path forward here. The contract must be enforced on its terms. If it will not be enforced by VRBO, I will have to create my own website and go back to collecting payments myself as I did for over a decade.

                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                      captmarkhd Senior Contributor

                                      I understand your perspective on this 100%, you have made it abundantly clear several times. What I don’t understand which is the big picture is why Vrbo has delisted you? Vrbo‘s policy has been for ever was not to get in the middle of resolving disputes between the guest and owners, ABB does that but not Vrbo. Are you telling us that Vrbo de listed you because you kept the damage deposit because you didn’t have receipts? BUT Vrbo holds the damage deposits until there are issues and you request the DD, was that request denied?  But if they didn't release it then why are you delisted?

                                      In your original post you mentioned taking damage deposits by check, did you do this with this guest? If so then that’s a violation of T&C and Vrbo could delist you because of that. And then you mention that you may be forced to take your business elsewhere other then Vrbo, that you have no path forward from here  but you said that you have been delisted?? If that’s the case then that decision has already been made for you, it’s not

                                      your choice. BUT again, the big question that we all want to know is if Vrbo is now being the moderators between guest and owners like ABB.

                                      We would all love to help you but I’m sorry, I can’t help the feeling that you aren't telling us the entire story, its just not adding up.

                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                          captmarkhd Senior Contributor

                                          Ok I’m going to make this simple; why exactly did they delist you???? HOW did you enforce your policy???? And why would they delist you for that??? You didn’t take the DD off site so you requested it from Vrbo, they gave it to you but then they delisted you??? Or they didn’t give it to You and they delisted you???? I’m sorry but none of that makes any since at all, what aren’t you telling us?

                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                              erika Contributor

                                              I've answered your question repeatedly. I don't know what else to say.

                                               

                                              There are benches at both the front door and in the garage for taking shoes off. Guests are advised before arrival to bring slip on/off shoes and flip flops for hot tub access so they can easily slip them on and off at the doors. Many people in the wilderness wear boots that slip on and off. It's not that hard. In many cultures around the world, it is considered extremely rude to wear shoes in any home and somehow those cultures make it work.

                                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                  margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                  erika
                                                  Here is what I think I understand:
                                                  The guest violate multiple rules in your contract
                                                  Your contract requires shoe be removed before entering the home, no hot tub use after 10pm, trash not be left outside
                                                  Your entryway camera showed they did not remove their shoes before entering
                                                  They left trash outside and used the hot tub after 10pm
                                                  You tried to withhold fines from the DD
                                                  Vrbo asked for receipts for the repairs, work done, etc.
                                                  You supplied the video of the guest entering the home before removing their shows.
                                                  You have been delisted

                                                   

                                                  Here is what I am still confused about:
                                                  Could the entry way possible appear to be indoors on the video?
                                                  Is this a condo building with a hallway that appears to be interior space?
                                                  Are the cameras disclosed in you listing?

                                                  Did you write up receipts for the work done and submit them?

                                                  Did you get any of the damage deposit withheld?
                                                  Are you sure you haven't been delisted because Vrbo believes you have indoor cameras? 

                                                   


                                                  It doesn't make sense for you to get delisted for trying to withhold from the DD, I think the video is the problem.

                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                      erika Contributor

                                                      Again, the cameras are not in the living areas of the house. They are monitoring entry ways. The cameras were all prominently disclosed in the actual listing when the guest booked. The cameras are not the issue. The cameras are any way not negotiable. We cannot have people smuggling in extra guests and pets through the entry doors. They would be monitored even if we didn't have the carpet rules. Guests are free to close the entry doors if they want privacy. But they are not free to bring anyone or anything through those doors, unauthorized.

                                                       

                                                      I submitted an invoice for the contractual carpet cleaning fee. I also submitted numerous times the photos of the actual work being done and how much dirt came out of the carpets. I cannot have VRBO demanding documentation that the contract explicitly states will NOT be provided. Our guests are advised that we often perform the work and there will not be a receipt. The contractual carpet cleaning fee is for the violation itself and requires no photos of "dirty carpets." The carpets are designed to hide dirt which is why I provided photos of the dirt that came out of them. But no photos are required.

                                                       

                                                      Also VRBO has no infrastructure for any of this and no way for them to receive videos, anyway.

                                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                          margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                          erika  I understand that the cameras are not inside the home. I understand your contract provisions. I am wondering if Vrbo believes they are interior cameras.

                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                              erika Contributor

                                                              No, as I've said repeatedly, the cameras are NOT the issue. The issue is that they want to override my contract and require an outside vendor receipt and photos of "dirtier carpets" when that is not required by our contract and totally unworkable for our situation.

                                                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                  wildiris Senior Contributor

                                                                  Vrbo would not remove your listing solely because you tried to "enforce your contract."  Vrbo would not remove your listing because you "had not sent the documentation they asked for."  I'm sure that in your mind, you attribute the removal of your listing to this.  As I and other Community members have said, there has to be more to it than that.  Vrbo would not remove your listing because of a single dispute over a damage deposit refund and the lack of documentation.  The most they would do is refund the guest's damage deposit.  They would not remove your listing unless there was something else that also happened.  For whatever reason, you are not prepared to share more details with the Community.  That's certainly your prerogative, but no one can give you meaningful advice or help without more information from you.  If your listing has been removed by Vrbo, for whatever reason, you have NO path forward with Vrbo.  It's no longer a choice you have to make - Vrbo has made it for you.


                                                                  Going forward, please remember that what you say and how you say it matters.  For example, you said in your original post, "Now VRBO/HA is telling me that I cannot enforce my contract despite dozens of videos of these people walking on the carpets with their shoes on."  It is reasonable for anyone reading that sentence to conclude that you have interior security cameras.  So, if you made a similar statement to Vrbo, they would likely conclude that you do have interior security cameras.  Upon questioning from Community members, you then said, "The cameras are at the entry ways. It is obvious if people don't take their shoes off at the entry way."  That is not the same as having "dozens of videos of these people walking on carpets with their shoes on."  So, it now appears that your original statement about having dozens of videos of people walking on the carpets was at best an exaggeration.  I think that it was probably a bit of hyperbole on your part and that you weren't trying to mislead anyone.  But, without meaning to, your original statement gave people the wrong impression.  It hurt your credibility.  I have no idea what you said to Vrbo or what they think took place.  But, if you made a similar statement to Vrbo, you may have hurt your credibility with them, also. 


                                                                  Two pieces of advice for you going forward if you want to continue with vacation rentals (with or without Vrbo).  The most important piece of advice is to have a lawyer review your contract.  Just because you put something in a contract and the guest signs it does NOT mean that it is enforceable.  For example, the law does not recognize, and judges will not enforce, contract provisions that are deemed to be "penalties."  The "fines" in your rental agreement must pass the test of being reasonable liquidated damages provisions in order to be enforced.  For a better understanding, you may want to take a look at this article - https://www.reedsmith.com/en/perspectives/2016/01/avoiding-unenforceable-penalty-clauses Also, there are state laws that govern what and how an owner can withhold money from a guest's damage deposit.  Most state laws require that an owner provide receipts for the damage or extra cleaning that has been done.  You cannot override these laws with a contract provision that says that don't have to provide receipts.  A contract clause that tries to negate or override the law is unenforceable as being against "public policy." 


                                                                  Second, you need to accept the fact that some guests just won't read your rental agreement and follow all of your rules.  So, you should do what you can to protect your rental in pragmatic ways.  Not all guests are going to remove their shoes outside your rental, no matter what you put in your agreement or how many signs you post.  Buy good exterior door mats for all the entrances to your rental.  Buy good-sized, washable rugs to place on top of the wall-to-wall carpet at the interior of all the entrances to your vacation rental.  Recognize that you're most likely going to have to shampoo or steam clean the carpet frequently to maintain the level of cleanliness that you want.   Increase the amount of your cleaning fee to compensate you for doing this work.  If a guest doesn't follow your rules, put him on your "do not rent again" list. 


                                                                  I wish you well.

                                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                  green_mango Active Contributor

                                                  You were delisted & now you want to ask your location to ban non-local booking platforms?! 

                                                  If you can't play in sandbox, then nobody can? 

                                                  Not sure I see the rationale there.... 

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  I'm a big fan of #bookdirect, as half my bookings come through my website, but I still plan on listing with Airbnb and VRBO - I can't match their marketing and getting eyes on my vacation rental has been a great way to get bookings - I still need the big OTAs. 

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Again, as pointed out above guests may be taking off their shoes inside - I don't like to leave my shoes outside as I don't want to put on freezing cold shoes.  If you're going to continue down this path I'd suggest including the information several times in your listing and RA that if any guests wear shoes inside the home they will be charged $xxx for carpet cleaning.  Does your carpet not get dirty when people walk around with their dirty feet?  Do you provide slippers for guests?  (I do - and they're surprisingly used once in awhile!).

                                                   

                                                  We still haven't heard exactly why you were delisted - did the guest file a complaint with VRBO? 

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  As I said above, something to keep in mind is that a signed contract is only enforceable if it's legal. 

                                                  Have you consulted your attorney who drafted your RA about the legality of withholding punitive fees from a damage deposit?

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  Lots of experienced owners trying to help you, but it's hard without more relevant information and answers to questions posed.

                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                      erika Contributor

                                                      You can't match their marketing or compete with them because they are in a "race to the bottom." They have allowed guests to become spoiled brats who think they can come into a community, exceed occupancy limitations, leave trash outside where animals can get it, damage things and break rules, go in the hot tub after 10 pm annoying all the neighbors - and not have to pay for it.

                                                       

                                                      If, however, they were no longer permitted to do vacation rentals here because they are non-local, then we could get back to maintaining owner and community standards as we once did when we had control over the payments. We won't have to compete with them if they are banned.

                                                       

                                                      I'd far rather suggest my community do something creative like that to get back to basic decency, than ban vacation rentals altogether. When the contract provisions are not enforced, there is absolutely no way for me to prevent guests from obnoxious behavior here that will get us banned.

                                                       

                                                      I see no path forward with VRBO.

                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                      bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                                      First off…why are you not collecting the security deposit off platform?  We require payment of the security deposit off platform via a personal check or via PayPal, which is what people usually do unless payment is made well in advance.  This is really the only way that YOU can control what gets refunded. 

                                                       

                                                      That said…if you make it clear that you have a “no shoes” policy, you have every right to enforce that.  Personally we will not book a VR that has such a policy as it is such a hassle unless a bench or chair is provided in order sit and remove shoes.  As for carpet vs no carpet, the trend is hard surfaced floors.  I get why they are so popular, but they are usually cold unless large area rugs are provided.  Our guesthouse is also carpeted with very dark carpet which shows little staining. But at the entrance we do have some tile, where someone could step into the house on tile and then remove shoes before walking on the carpet (if we had such a policy).  You could also provide a matt on top of the carpet, that could be replaced when necessary.

                                                       

                                                      We have been in this business for 25 years and share your frustrations.  But keeping or gaining control of how bookings are handled is key and provides peace of mind.  We are getting out of the business as soon as we can find a buyer for our ranch (120+ acres) which could take several years.  It has been a good run…well, at least the part where we controlled just about everything.  I like to sleep at night, so have learned to let things go and keep a list of “do-not-rent-to-again” guests.  I refuse to battle over cleaning issues unless significant damage is done.  Life is just too short...

                                                       

                                                      Edited...

                                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                          erika Contributor

                                                          Are we allowed to collect it off platform? I'll start doing that for sure if it's possible.

                                                           

                                                          For those who keep asking about carpet, I'm not going to keep repeating myself. We have carpet because it's far more comfortable. We are in a wilderness area with long winters where nobody wants to walk on cold floors, myself included.

                                                           

                                                          Area rugs are often even more difficult to clean.

                                                           

                                                          And the kicker is the noise. Even taking all the throw blankets and pillows leads to great increase of echo noise in our cathedral ceilings. We have had many groups going over 80 decibels just in the past two months. Remove the carpets and you're going to have noise complaints. Noise complaints are thousands of dollars of fines.

                                                           

                                                          Nobody is forced to rent my house. I sacrificed revenue by writing a strict contract and requiring guest signature, in the spirit of being totally transparent about rules and requirements and fees. VRBO needs to enforce my contract AS WRITTEN without imposing their irrelevant requirements.

                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                              bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                                              We have been taking the security deposit off platform for years with no problem.  But we rarely hold anything and usually refund 100%.  The guest needs to pay the security deposit via PayPal and review, sign and return the guest agreement within 24 hours of booking.

                                                               

                                                              And it is your choice to continue with carpet.  We prefer carpet too as it is so much warmer.  You just have to make it clear about the "no shoes" policy and it appears that you do require a signature acknowledging your policy.  Funny thing, is that we walk our guests thru upon arrival.  Some enter the house and immediately start to remove their shoes - to which we say, "no, please leave your shoes on" as we will be going outside. Different parts of the world do things differently.  And all vacation rentals are different.  You cannot put all vacation rentals into the same basket.  But this is one of the reasons we like to speak to a guest before finalizing the booking so that we can be assured that we can meet expectations.

                                                              • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                wildiris Senior Contributor

                                                                Vrbo usually isn't involved in being a referee between a guest and an owner regarding the refund of the damage deposit.  Having Vrbo remove a listing is an uncommon and unusual situation.  That's why we are seeking more details from you about precisely what transpired.  Did you withhold amounts from the damage deposit for several guests or just one guest?  How much was the damage deposit?  Did you withhold all of the guest's damage deposit because he violated provisions of your contract?  Did the guest challenge the withholding with Vrbo?  Did the guest issue a credit card chargeback for what you withheld?  Were you and the guest communicating with Vrbo Customer Service about this?  Simply repeating to us that you were "delisted" because you tried to enforce your contract provisions does not clarify what happened in your situation.

                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                              captmarkhd Senior Contributor

                                                              We are just going around and around and not getting anywhere. Vrbo doesn’t just de list a listing, like others have said for them to do so is extremely uncommon and normally reserved for egregious violations of there T&C’s or a case of fraud by the owner. They would not just delist you over a damage deposit dispute. Either you aren’t telling us everything OR you simply don’t know the exact reason why and are presuming. Regardless without additional information there’s nothing that any of us can do to help you at this point. Good luck with your rental and your future endeavors there.

                                                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                  erika Contributor

                                                                  Wait until it happens to you. We all know changes have occurred in the past year. This has been an incredibly disorganized, unaccountable process on their part. Just wait until it's your turn to be treated like this.

                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                      margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                                      erika
                                                                      I am sorry you are so upset and frustrated. You are not giving us a chance to offer you any advice or help because you are not answering direct questions. We all know things change without notice and would like to know what exactly happened in your case. I would like to offer you help but I am still unclear on some of the details. I think the others here feel the same.

                                                                      How do you know you have been delisted?
                                                                      Did you receive an email telling you that you are delisted because you want to enforce you rental agreement?
                                                                      Were you given a reason or are you surmising the reason?

                                                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                          lakensea Contributor

                                                                          erika wrote:

                                                                           

                                                                          I am answering the questions. You guys don't like the answers and refuse to believe me why I was delisted.

                                                                           

                                                                          "Thank you for your response. I want to confirm that we have received an invoice, but there are no receipts to support the amount that has been claimed. Please provide a receipt that contains the amount spent on carpet cleaning products and/or purchase or rental of a carpet cleaning equipment. ...Your listing will remain inactive until this matter has been resolved. "


                                                                          The contract states that work is done in house and there will not be a receipt. End of story.


                                                                          I am delisted for enforcing my contract. It is totally unacceptable.

                                                                           

                                                                          The contract is between you and the traveler, not you an HA/VRBO.  You have agreed to to HA/VRBO's T & C, which means playing by their rules.  For them to expect proof of expenditure is not unreasonable.  Is someone came up to me and said I damaged their car in a parking lot, and had photos, proof etc, and demanded $1000 for the damage, I would say OK, show me a body shop invoice and I'll pay it.

                                                                           

                                                                          I would be interested in seeing the email where they initially informed you of being delisted.

                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                      db.meyer Senior Contributor

                                                                      Since you do not have the vendor receipts that HA is apparently requiring you to provide in this situation, I suggest returning the entire deposit to these guests if that will satisfy HA to re-activate your listing and it is worth it to you to continue listing with HA. Moving forward, you may wish to do as bobbie32 suggests requiring a separate off-platform "security" deposit for rental agreement enforcement.

                                                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                          erika Contributor

                                                                          Why should I do that when the contract is clear and the guest signed it? so these guests will go out and treat other owners' properties with disrespect because they know VRBO won't make them pay what they agreed to pay?

                                                                           

                                                                          nope that's exactly why so many communities are banning vacation rentals.

                                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                              db.meyer Senior Contributor

                                                                              Bottom line, would you rather be happy or right?  Happy in this case is up to you. If you want to insist on being right you will not be listed on HA.  If you need HA, bite the deposit bullet and move forward.  Otherwise, nothing will come of your post on this issue. 

                                                                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                  erika Contributor

                                                                                  That my friend is the same reasoning process that has led vacation rentals to be banned all over the world.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Owners let guests get away with murder, literally, under pressure from irresponsible platforms that want to make more money no matter what the cost.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  That is why guests now feel free to show up in communities and trash them, with unauthorized parties, litter everywhere, not respecting property, not respecting neighbors.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  That is why we are all in this unfortunate position in the first place.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  I should just roll over when a guest comes into my home, sabotages the camera, uses the hot tub after 10 pm, walks all over the carpet with shoes, and leaves his trash where animals can get it? Never mind that he SIGNED an agreement agreeing to this fee, agreeing there would not be a receipt, there would be no photos of dirty carpets. He'll just walk away scot free and be able to trash the next owner's house and community with no fear of any repercussions?

                                                                                   

                                                                                  I think not.

                                                                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                  db.meyer Senior Contributor

                                                                                  I believe that we all share your concerns for guests following our rental agreement rules and requirements, especially in light of local rental regulations and bans.  We are all trying to help you but you don't seem open to our input and suggestions for moving forward.  You continue to introduce new facts/details, now you are reporting sabotage of your camera(s)?  I can understand why HA may be exasperated with your situation which has led to your listing being removed.  The time you have spent/are spending posting here may soon exceed the time you spent to take videos and cleaning your carpet.  One final thought before I exit this futile discussion, Have you considered increasing your cleaning fee as a self-insurance for future violations as you will not be able to enforce your rules if you continue listing on HA?

                                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                      erika Contributor

                                                                                      Yes, the guest broke three of our cardinal rules. I only charged him for part of it and was going to let him off easy. Then he complained so all issues became front and center.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Orinda happened in my neck of the woods. Orinda is the predictable consequence of not enforcing owner contracts, fines, and fees.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      The market will not bear a $1000 cleaning fee, which is what we would have to charge if guests are not going to follow the rules. Nor would that be fair to the guests who do follow rules, who would be forced to pay for guests like this who thinks he can make up his own rules.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Just wait until it's your turn for this. Just wait.

                                                                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                  green_mango Active Contributor

                                                                                  So much helpful advice - but erika I feel like the root of the problem may be that you used the damage deposit for "fines" - and VRBO has said that's a no-no.  My guess is that led a guest to file a formal complaint, and as you said VRBO didn't receive the info that you provided, so you were delisted. 

                                                                                   

                                                                                  3rd time is the charm - has an attorney who works with short term rentals advised you regarding the legality of withholding fees from a damage deposit? 

                                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                      lakensea Contributor

                                                                                      Wouldn't HA/VRBO send an email notification to the owner with a specific reason for being delisted?

                                                                                       

                                                                                      If the OP would post the verbiage in that email, I would think that would answer a lot of questions.

                                                                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                          erika Contributor

                                                                                          It's not a fine. It's compensation for actual hours spent in hard core manual labor cleaning mud and dirt and debris out of the carpets.

                                                                                           

                                                                                          Fines will have to be enforced or there is absolutely no way to get guests to follow community rules. This is not a fine, it is compensation for work done in house and the fee is agreed in the contract.

                                                                                           

                                                                                          But as to the fines we do have, they have to be enforced or AGAIN there is no path forward with VRBO. You get someone in here who decides they are going to do whatever they like in spite of the rules, and the risk and liability for me, the stress, the discord with neighbors, the risk of vacation rentals being banned ... is so high ... unless VRBO wants to send a full time staff to evict guests who don't follow rules, they will need to enforce fines. If they will not, we go back to - there is no path forward with VRBO.

                                                                                           

                                                                                          Orinda is in my neck of the woods, and it is the predictable consequence of these kind of policies.

                                                                                           

                                                                                          As for language from the email - here's one of them:


                                                                                          "Thank you for your response. I want to confirm that we have received an invoice, but there are no receipts to support the amount that has been claimed. Please provide a receipt that contains the amount spent on carpet cleaning products and/or purchase or rental of a carpet cleaning equipment. ...Your listing will remain inactive until this matter has been resolved. "


                                                                                          The contract states work may be done in house and there will not be a receipt. The contract states the fee for carpet cleaning.


                                                                                          There is no path forward with VRBO. I will have to get my direct booking business going. It is insane that owners are putting up with this baloney given the risks involved with not being able to enforce rules.

                                                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                              linky17 Active Contributor

                                                                                              In this world of short-term Vacation Rentals, it's generally understood that neither you nor I can *legally* assess -- a Guest -- monetary 'damage expense(s)/fees' related to remedial work that you or I (personally) perform.  Receipts are required to enforce consumer protection.  As a Guest, would you expect any less?  So to ensure a time-specific/detailed debit (to > Owner) from the professional (= license #) engaged to remedy the problem, and to guarantee provision of said service?

                                                                                               

                                                                                              Absent this safeguard?  Think about it ...  Right?

                                                                                               

                                                                                              I can't provide *legal* advice, but I DO hope that you have consulted with an attorney to review/refine your contract?

                                                                                               

                                                                                              Lastly + frankly?  I find it sad that you're experiencing such ... strife?  And -- it seems, to me -- all because of a reluctance (on your part/IMO) to mitigate the "no shoes," the 'flooring,' and the like.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              I surrender.

                                                                                              • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                mauimakani Contributor

                                                                                                It appears that Vrbo is looking for documentation/receipts for the rental of a carpet cleaner or cleaning supplies that you had to purchase to clean after this guest’s departure. Vrbo does not know when the last time you cleaned your carpets, maybe it was just prior to this guests arrival, maybe it was three years ago. Without receipts for cleaning or an invoice from a professional carpet cleaner they can not help you "enforce" the contract that you have with this guest. The contract you are trying to enforce is between you and your guest, Vrbo merely inserted themselves into the equation when they started to hold the damage deposits. The only “enforcement” they are doing is withholding funds from damage deposits when an Owner provides receipts and/or photos.


                                                                                                If you stayed in a vacation rental and were and you deposit was withheld, wouldn’t your expectation be to have some proof that the cleaning was performed?. I am not sure if you mentioned why you haven't engaged with a carpet cleaner, but it might make this less of a problem moving forward since you would be able to provide invoices and not have to spend the time doing the work. This is an expense that I gladly incurred and was built into our rates. Do you have guests initial a carpet clause in your contract that indicates an additional cleaning cost that will be withheld if the shoes off rule is not adhered to. Set clear expectations for all parties and have a plan to provide proof so you can enforce your contract.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                When I first started on Vrbo 13 years ago, my biggest struggle was my expectations for how guests would treat my home. I had this fantasy that everyone had basic common sense, would leave my property as they found it and would treat my home as their own. Not at all realistic! Nobody is going to treat your home with the care that you will. My standard of clean is going to be different than yours, than a guests, and frankly than some of the cleaners that I had over the years. This took me years to come to terms with and I stubbornly settled into not getting overwrought when a guest left a complete mess or damaged something. I moved on more quickly, added those lousy guests to a do not rent to again list and appreciated the guests who went above expectations even more.


                                                                                                Business models change and, as you have noted, Vrbo has changed over the last few years. I sold my vacation rental property in late 2019 for compounding reasons - The VR industry has changed to the detriment of Owners (IMO), guest quality and Vrbo service was no longer in line with my goals and expectations. When we listed with Vrbo, 13 years ago, we had complete control over the relationship and things did run more smoothly. In the past few years, I felt that I was becoming marginalized and the relationship was no longer viable for my how I wanted to do business. The RE market was favorable to sellers, so we sold.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                I completely understand and sympathize with you making sure that you abide by local noise ordinances and being respectful of your neighbors. I am sure they appreciate your effort. I live in a city that does not allow STVRs, yet there is one across the street. It is truly no fun to having to deal with large numbers people on vacation who likely don’t know that their rental is illegal. People on vacation generally have little concept that everyone else in the neighborhood isn’t also on vacation and would maybe like to be sleeping at 3AM.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Best of luck in finding the best route forward.

                                                                                                  • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                    mauimakani Contributor

                                                                                                    “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

                                                                                                     

                                                                                                    Good day, erika.

                                                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                      u0999 Premier Contributor

                                                                                                      I was sympathetic to your situation ( even though personally I never had and would never have carpets in a VR. Solid floor + area rugs). But when you said: "The gaslighting that has occurred in this community is horrifying. For a guest to sign an agreement with very clear rules, violate those rules, and expect to get away with it. Again, this is why vacation rentals are being banned all over the world. This is also why people are getting murdered left and right in Airbnbs." - Sheesh. You lost even me there - quite a stretch to equate not taking shoes off/dirtying carpet to  m.u.r.d.e.r.s.

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      I really don't know what did you expect when you posted - for all on this board to 100% agree with what you say?  Then it would not be a discussion, it would be a monologue. Is it horrifying that not everyone 100% agrees with you?

                                                                                                      Perhaps your contract is not worded properly ( fees vs deposit), and I think you got plenty of good advice.

                                                                                                      Perhaps vrbo is not longer for you.

                                                                                                      Perhaps there is something else you know but not telling the audience.

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      In either case, this horse is dead.

                                                                                                      wish you success no matter how you decide to proceed.

                                                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                      margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                                                                      Vrbo is requiring you to submit receipts for the work and supplies, this is not unreasonable. Create a receipt with the cost of your hours of labor and submit that along with the receipts for the supplies used to complete the work. Blank receipts can be found online, at Staples,Walmart, etc. You are being asked to document the cost to validate withholding the funds. IMO, you have been delisted due to the guest complaint.

                                                                                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                          bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                                                                                          Screen Shot 2020-02-11 at 9.21.19 AM.png

                                                                                                           

                                                                                                          Actually, I now understand her method.  This is a normal fee for her and no different than an extra person fee.  If someone shows up with an extra person that was not disclosed prior to arrival, the owner should be able to charge if they note an extra person fee on their listing.  I look at the carpet issue the same way.  Take shoes off = no fee.  Leave shoes on = pay the fee.  It has nothing to do with whether or not the carpet needs cleaning.  It has to do with violating the rules, for which she has decided to charge for.  She really needs to take the security deposit off platform in order to get this to work as it is not the norm and VRBO has no way of handling a violation of the rules unless there is visible damage and a receipt. Frankly I do not know how they (VRBO) handle occupancy abuse with too many people if there is no visible damage except for an over abundance of laundry.  We note a cancellation fee on our listing if cancelled before 60 days of arrival.  But there is no way to collect this cancellation fee except deduct from security deposit that is taken off platform.  But we do note it within the listing and not just within the guest agreement.  Like I said in a previous post, all vacation rentals are different and all owners handle things differently.  If an owner cannot get the system to work per the owner's methods, they need to figure out how to get it done off platform.

                                                                                                           

                                                                                                          As to why she was delisted, it probably has to do with the fact that her methods do not fit VRBO methods, thus could be considered a violation of terms.

                                                                                                           

                                                                                                          Edited...

                                                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                      scottr Active Contributor

                                                                                                      Where on Vrbo would I collect a fee that would be used for fines, for guests that violate the rental agreement?

                                                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                      green_mango Active Contributor

                                                                                                      Ah, well then I guess we're finished?  Everyone has been going above and beyond to be helpful, but if "the level of discussion here is not impressive" then I suppose we're off the hook for continuing to try and be helpful. 

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      In law school did they skip the part about fees vs damage deposit?  VRBO can't enforce your RA, but you *do* have the option of taking your guests to small claims court - just a head's up to be prepared for the judge to ask you for itemized receipts.  In many states if you wrongly withhold from a deposit then the renter is entitled to 2-3x the amount withheld. 

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      I run a tight ship - I understand the importance of doing so - I have a solid rental agreement that's several pages and I enforce my RA, much to the dismay of my handful of guests who break it.   What I don't have is a steady stream of guests who continually break rules - I set reasonable expectations from the get go.  My "attitude" is not why there was an Airbnb shooting in Orinda - for goodness sakes, for once it sounds like VRBO made the right move removing a listing.

                                                                                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                          erika Contributor

                                                                                                          Enough said. If you do not agree that guests should be held to the agreement they signed, then we will have to agree to disagree. If you believe every owner should be held to a standard of a big city where professional contractors can be summoned on a moment's notice and trusted to document everything, then I invite you to try hosting in the boonies like I do. If you think guests should be allowed to come to my house, sabotage a camera, break the quiet hour rules, violate the carpets over and over again, and leave trash where it could lead to the tragic death of our wildlife ... then we will have to agree to disagree.

                                                                                                           

                                                                                                          I understand some people here were trying to be helpful ... I think many simply can't accept that our beloved VRBO has gone down the tubes. It happens to the best companies when they are bought out by big uncaring corporations who just want to make money.

                                                                                                           

                                                                                                          VRBO is no more. It is dead. Those of us who've been with VRBO with 15 years will have to regroup and find some other way.

                                                                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                              captmarkhd Senior Contributor

                                                                                                              We have all told you the same over and over again but you just don’t want to listen to it, your the common denominator here. If this is how you treat Your fellow VR host when we’re trying to help I can’t imagine what your like to deal with as an owner OR a guest for that matter!!!

                                                                                                              • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                green_mango Active Contributor

                                                                                                                I agree guests should be held accountable to legally valid rental agreements - the jury is out on whether your RA meets that criteria.

                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                It appears you're assuming I don't host "in the boonies" and yet I consider my location to be pretty far removed from any cities.  I am personally a 10 hour drive away & Target is 3 hours away, so I am well versed in managing a rural vacation home.  As part of my management tools I use my exterior camera - if I see rule breaking I reach out to the guest with a polite reminder.  We are in bear country and I'm well versed on the wildlife and trash and I manage it well with nary a problem.  I guess I've gotten lucky that in all the years I've been managing I've yet to have a guest violate my carpets over and over again.  Yes, some dogs have peed on our area rug (including my own pup - guilty!), but it's normal wear & tear and we steam clean and do enzyme treatments between replacements.  It's just part of doing business.  Incurring $1,000 cost for cleaning magical dirt-hiding carpets after being walked on with shoes isn't reasonable.  When landlords (closest thing to owner-guest relationship in eyes of the law) do repairs themselves they need to itemize a reasonable hourly rate for labor.  I get it that those are your rules, but part of being hospitable is finding a balance between setting rules/expectations fur guests and welcoming them to our homes.  If guests are repeatedly violating your carpet and your rules, then something needs to change - maybe you could start a carpet cleaning business out in the boonies and make some big bucks  

                                                                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                              ambidextrous Active Contributor

                                                                                                              Wow, Erica. Let's just take a hard look at this.

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              First -- there isn't a soul on this forum who would not prefer to go back to the olden days when we had direct contact with our guests, VRBO kept the heck out of our business other than to place an ad that we paid for. However, that day is long gone and it is not coming back. People who are succeeding on VRBO are those who have adapted to the change. You are fighting for control that you will never have again. If that does not work for you, advertise elsewhere. While I fully agree that guests should be held to their word, I also know that if I get fined for my guest not sorting the recycling, or parking an extra car, or being noisy after hours -- while I would like to pass along the fines, VRBO may tell me to go pound sand.

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              You are at an impasse with VRBO -- and they hold all the power. While you may be "right" and they are wrong, they see it differently. The question you need to ask yourself is how much revenue are you going to lose by not having your home on their site?

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              If I were in your shoes, I would either:

                                                                                                              a) Cancel my subscription and advertise on other platforms, or

                                                                                                              b) Swallow hard, walk away from trying to charge the guests in question and get your listing live.

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              And if neither of those choices work for you, I'd say it's time to sell. The biggest problem I see with some owners is that they rule with their heart, not their head. You are managing a business, and your job is to maximize revenue -- not browbeat VRBO and the fellow owners on this site.

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              In the past ten or so years, the listing sites have changed dramatically, and new owners come on to the site every single day. They buy a second home and want to defray some of their costs by renting their homes. You should keep in mind that VRBO wants a simple transaction for guests. If you don't fit their model, they do not care. There are plenty of homes on the site with owners that work hard to get along -- not make waves. Is this fair? Maybe not. But it's their website and their rules. Some people here may recall on the Yahoo VR Owner's group the travails of a woman who was very combative with HomeAway. They chose to no longer do business with her.

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              Not every guest is a winner. We all have guests who are more trouble than they were worth. Time to close the book on this a move forward.

                                                                                                                • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                  scottr Active Contributor

                                                                                                                  - or take the deposit outside of Vrbo

                                                                                                                  Each year, there are fewer and fewer newbies to take the place of lost hosts.  At some point, host retention will need to be part of any long-term plans, and I think we're getting close to that point (within 1-2 years, IMHO)

                                                                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                      ambidextrous Active Contributor

                                                                                                                      scottr wrote:

                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                      Each year, there are fewer and fewer newbies to take the place of lost hosts.  At some point, host retention will need to be part of any long-term plans, and I think we're getting close to that point (within 1-2 years, IMHO)

                                                                                                                      Scott, I hope you're right, but there are way more rental homes in my market (like triple!) than there were 10 years ago. Granted, HomeAway and Air have grown the market segment so there are more customers too. And, while I hope you are right, every time one of us old-timers sells our home and takes all of our "The way it used to be" baggage with us, a new owner joins who has different expectations of what to expect from VRBO or Air. These new owners are learning new rules of the game and are less inclined to be malcontents since the new game in town is the only one they know.

                                                                                                                        • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                          scottr Active Contributor

                                                                                                                          I'm mostly referring to to communities that have either capped the number of VHRs, or banned then altogether.  In many communities, selling means the home will never be a VHR again. Holding on to what you have is a win for many owners.  I know that it is different in all areas, but 10 years ago, when I started, I could not have imagined the resistance from the community.  VHRs moved from being tolerated, to a ballot measure to ban them.  This is a national trend, that has no signs of slowing. 

                                                                                                                    • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                      samincal Contributor

                                                                                                                      I have read this post, and the replies, and two questions arose that seasoned owners may be able to answer:

                                                                                                                      1) Do we have the ability to charge fines unrelated to damage or cleaning, even if they are clearly stated in our Rental Agreement (RA). Such fines might be for over occupancy, violations to outdoor noise ordinance, smoking indoors, tampering with (outdoor) security camera, bringing in undisclosed pet (even if no obvious damage), late check-out, etc.  Do I understand that VRBO/HA will not permit us to deduct for these fines (or risk being delisted), but these fines may (or may not, depending on jurisdiction) be enforceable on a legal level? (Too much for this platform, but I wonder if we won in court, would VRBO/HA still find the deductions to be against their policies?)

                                                                                                                      2) If we are doing cleaning ourselves (e.g., using a rented carpet cleaner) will a receipt that we made for ourselves (e.g., 4 hours @ $50 per hour) be accepted by VRBO/HA as justification for additional charges, or must it be a receipt to someone else? Does it help if one discloses the hourly rate for additional cleaning in the RA?

                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                      Understanding VRBO/HA position on these issues may help Erika, myself and others realize the limitations of our rights as owners. 

                                                                                                                      • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                        sage Senior Contributor

                                                                                                                        In thinking more about this matter, I find myself confused regarding the "documentation" that vrbo is demanding. I infer that the demand is understood to be for documents to support withholding of some amount of a security desposit, however the information on what is required to withhold funds does not include any requirement for any documentation.The pertinent terms at https://help.vrbo.com/articles/How-do-I-subtract-damage-costs-from-the-refundable-damage-deposit say:

                                                                                                                        How do I withhold funds from the refundable damage deposit?

                                                                                                                          Subtract damage cost from automatic damage deposit

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                        1. Log in to your account.
                                                                                                                        2. If you have more than one listing, select the listing you wish to claim damage on.
                                                                                                                        3. Click Reservation Manager in the left navigation menu.
                                                                                                                        4. Click Payments.
                                                                                                                        5. Choose the correct traveler payment.
                                                                                                                        6. Scroll down to Damage Protection.
                                                                                                                        7. Under the deposit total, click Actions.
                                                                                                                        8. Click Report Damage.
                                                                                                                        9. Enter the amount of money you would like to withhold from the damage deposit. This cannot exceed the amount paid by the traveler.
                                                                                                                        10. Describe the damage in the box below. This will not be sent to the traveler, but is helpful for your record keeping.
                                                                                                                        11. Click Report Damage.

                                                                                                                        The money will be deposited into your account in 3-7 business days. The remainder of the funds will be refunded to the traveler. The traveler will receive an email notifying them of the refund.

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                        Or maybe that information is just plain wrong.

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                        For vrbo to require anything more from an owner than the assertion a right to the funds would put vrbo in a dangerous position if a guest disputes the retention of some part of the security deposit. If vrbo is acting as a decision maker, and not merely performing clerical functions, it could be liable if funds are wrongly withheld, and this could be additional evidence that vrbo is an employer of the owners or otherwise exercises control over individual listings.

                                                                                                                          • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                            u0999 Premier Contributor

                                                                                                                            perhaps Vrbo did not consider dirty carpets "damage". If there was a hole in the carpet, that would be damage. Just guessing.

                                                                                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                              bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                                                                                                              We do not let VRBO handle the "damage deposit" so really don't know how it works.  But if it is truly called a "damage" deposit and has nothing to do with breaking the rules or so-called fines for doing so, how would she follow the instructions?  I think she wants to issue fines for people breaking the rules regardless whether or not there is damage.  This whole carpet issue is not the norm.  Hotels have carpets and people surely don't take their shoes off when entering a hotel room. Hotels probably clean the carpets every few months or when need be. But everyone is different and there are probably those that think wearing shoes on carpet is just a big no-no. I know for some people it is a cultural thing. Do you know if VRBO has a clause about how to issue fines for breaking the rules?  If so, how would so-called "rule-breaking" be proven?  Cameras on the exterior don't show what goes on inside.  If it is a noise issue, I suppose a sound recording on the exterior might work.  But I would hesitate to go there and am sure you agree.  If the issue is too many people, cameras on the outside might show it.  If it is a dog, cameras on the outside might show it.  Or if one of the rules is related to a barking dog (if dogs are allowed), how would someone prove it other than getting a letter from a neighbor?

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                              Personally I prefer to let things go and put someone on our never-book-to-again list, if in fact they have broken the rules.  But not everyone is alike and some want to either punish someone or make sure another owner does not face the same issues.  We all handle things differently and I get that.  

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                              Edited...

                                                                                                                            • Re: Delisted for enforcing my contract - Not seeing any path forward with VRBO / Homeaway
                                                                                                                              ha-moderator-amanda HomeAway Employee

                                                                                                                              Hi everyone, thank you to those of you who have offered advice and tips to erika. We have been monitoring this discussion and while we strongly encourage peer-to-peer help, in an effort to mitigate any additional confusion or misinformation, we are now locking this thread.