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Is owner of short term rental responsible for refund from Flip Key disgruntled guest

Discussion in 'Vacation Rentals' started by Peggy Hickey, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Peggy Hickey

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    I own and operate a short term rental using my lower level of my home as the accommodation/rental space.
    I have been in business almost three years with very few complaints. I jump into action when anyone has had an issue. I've used VRBO (primarily), AirBNB and Flip Key. I had guests book and arrive in early Dec from Flip Key. There were some red flags when they arrived, alarming me to possible problems. ***Another question for forum*** What to do when guests arrive and you have a sinking feeling that they are going to be problematic?
    I digress... It was a Friday night and two friends popped over whom I hadn't seen in a long time. One friend stayed to watch a movie with my b/f. I went to sleep never hearing the TV. The guests began txting me around 11:20 that the noise level was "rude and unacceptable". My b/f saw this text and immediately turned the tv volume down to a very low level. Another text came shortly after this making grand statements re: noise being excessive and how rude I was. I was asleep and did not know about the texts. I woke up soon there after to slamming doors, screaming, yelling and more slamming of doors. I thought the guests/couple were having a fight. This went on for about 2 hrs. We dared not confront the angry guests. I was truly scared that my home was being destroyed. Around 1:30 a.m. they left with luggage and went to a hotel. I only found this out later when the guest txted me that they were not returning and expected a full refund. I have never replied to their texts or voice message. I reported this couple to Flip Key as a problem. It has now been a month and I am receiving more texts stating that they want a full refund. Do I owe them a refund? How should I proceed?
     
    #1
  2. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    They should go to FlipKey. FlipKey has to have a procedure for guests that have a problem. I'd also tell them if they continue the texts you will take the them to the police.

    As a homeowner renting through these places you should be familiar with whatever rules each of these companies use for your own safety.

    Did you contact FlipKey?
     
    #2
    Maria K. Telegdy and jsn55 like this.
  3. Peggy Hickey

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    I will contact FlipKey shortly. I guess I am trying to ignore the situation and hoping it goes away. Your right I do need to know more info re: rules that surround this situation for my safety.
     
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  4. Algebralovr

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    I would have called the police when the excessive noise of the "fight" began. That is what I did when I lived in an apartment and the couple below me fought.

    Meanwhile, read the terms and conditions from Flipkey. What does your contract say?
     
    #4
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  5. Kahhss

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    To be candid, you really don't know what happened as you were asleep. You may sleep soundly but the guests may not. Or your friend & bf may have been louder than you thought. I'm not saying the guests were not rude but I think it's a safe assumption to make that if they complained about the noise and the TV was turned down that they would think you were receiving the messages. So if the TV was really loud and then only turned down moderately I could see where they would assume you were rude.

    Whatever happened while you were asleep was enough to anger the guests enough that they left and got a hotel. It's also quite likely you'll never get a straight answer from either you friend / bf or the guests because it's unlikely either one would cop to being the cause of the problem.

    My thoughts are that the TV was loud enough to cause a problem and that this problem was originally caused by your friends. Thus you may want to give them a refund as you have some responsibility in this matter and you may not want to deal with the hassle. After all, they could possibly attempt to litigate this matter in small claims court and then you'd have a bigger headache on your hands. FlipKey relies on your listing to determine refund policies but those can and would go out the window if you are found to be creating a nuisance that inhibits the renters from using the property.

    Moreover, I'm not sure I'd rent the property in the future if you were entertaining personal guests. That seems like a recipe for trouble.
     
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  6. Christina H

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    I had a neighbor that was very sensitive to noise (apartment living). She did complain about me once. She was sure that the noise was coming from my apartment directly above. It wasn't. I was out of the country and no one was in the apartment. It was another neighbor (yes she did apologize to me).

    Noise travels differently depending on the construction of the building. So you may not have been able to hear it on the same floor but someone below may have heard more; or they could be more sensitive.

    The guests may have been angry because they got no response to the texts but felt that someone was reading the texts because the volume was reduced. This in no way excuses their fighting; however they must have been very upset to leave and go find a hotel at that time of the night -- which must have been expensive.

    I think you need to look at the Flipkey dispute process.
     
    #6
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    Neil and Patina like this.
  7. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Herein lies the major problem with putting your home up as a short-term rental, inviting guests in and leaving them to their own devices. People paying to stay there deserve a peaceful, quiet time.

    Regardless of what caused the hullabaloo, the instant you heard "fighting" coming from the basement of your home, the police should have been called. There would have been an investigation, and you'd know what happened. Right now, you really don't know if you owe them a refund or not, and I don't see how you're going to find out. You'll have to rely on the FlipKey terms to guide you with this mess. I wish I could be more helpful.
     
    #7
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  8. AAGK

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    Have you tried putting on the TV at the same volume and going downstairs to listen? Maybe that will help with your decision.
     
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  9. technomage1

    Staff Member Forum Director

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    From looking a at FlipKeys site, they have no dispute resolution nor will they get involved.

    Provided they did not damage the property I'd suggest giving them a refund to make them go away. If they did damage something then take that amount out and return the rest.

    Otherwise its going to be down to whatever contract you had them sign. If you had no contract then you have no protection, and I'd strongly suggest using one in future.

    If you continue to ignore them you could very well end up in small claims court. So I'd suggest addressing this now.
     
    #9
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  10. sas80

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    As mentioned, people have different sensitivity meters. Who knows if this person was truly just a jerk, or a very light sleeper. It seems the only thing that would have resolved the issue was an immediate switching off of the TV. That didn't happen. Your guests felt like they made every accommodation possible, the renter did not. It happens. No one is to blame.

    If the truth of this situation is that you've never encountered a guest of this 'magnitude' before (you said 3 years of renting) then I would consider it a one-off, refund the balance of their stay, and just be done with them.

    Yes, they are probably an ass, but do you really need the drama?
     
    #10
  11. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    And in the future I probably would not rent using any of the sites that do nothing to protect you. What if they had trashed the place? We had a homeowner who rented her place and was robbed blind.
     
    #11
  12. Peggy Hickey

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    Thank you all for your input. I really appreciate it. I have been in contact with FlipKey and they say they are an advertising only web site NOT a booking agent. They have no dog in this fight. Although they continue to reach out to me????
    Refunding is probably the best option to get them to go away. My atty says ignore them. The guests live in CA and to litigate for such small amount will be in small claims and it would cost them more than what they lost. tbd....
     
    #12
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  13. Kahhss

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    That's what I mentioned earlier - FlipKey doesn't take any responsibility whatsoever.

    Again, your guests caused the nuisance and thus it's best for you to refund these people.
     
    #13

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