VRBO - Disputing owner's damage claim

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.
Nov 6, 2018
4
0
1
32
#1
Hi,

Just wanted to get the general opinion of the situation I am facing. Let me summarize what we had recently gone through via VRBO.

(1) Booked rental in NH
(2) On the day of our travel to the rental I had sent an email to the owner asking if grill was available, for which she had mentioned that it was packed away due to snow
(3) The night of our arrival my friend had rammed a moose/deer, one or two miles away from the rental. Thus we had to spend the better part of the night trying to co-ordinate with the local police to have a police report made for insurance purposes.
(4) Visited rental and had a nice time. Ensured that we cleaned up the place prior to us leaving in spite of there been a 'cleaning' fee.
(5) Got a mail from the owner via VRBO the following week stating that we had 'blatantly' disregarded her request to not use the grill and that we had messed up her outdoor deck. As such, she is withholding the entire security deposit.
(6) Called her up and she claims that the outdoor deck furniture including the grill was tarped up by herself and since we had apparently 'attempted' to use the grill, we had removed the tarp and messed up the deck. Her housekeeper had taken pictures and had that sent over to her and she is adamant that we are responsible.

The issue is :-
We had never attempted to use the grill
The outdoor deck furniture etc. was already untarped when we had arrived
I had sent multiple emails to the owner stating that we had to deal with the police on the night of our arrival and had even shown her the picture of the vehicle damage. In addition to that I also had provided a picture taken in the morning (which with god's grace) shows the outdoor deck being already untarped.

I mean, as travellers, are we bound to record every aspect of the rental before we actually start using it? I mean, how would that be humanly possible considering that I would have to spend a good hour or two documenting the existing state of the rental before we start using it?

As far as I am aware, the untarping of her outdoor furniture etc. could have happened anytime before we had arrived but we had turned a blind eye as we were not aware of what 'expected' state the rental was to be in the first place or the owner had not tarped it correctly and mother nature was having it her way.

I have opened a case with VRBO and had asked them to review the interaction via VRBO the owner and myself have had and as of now they are asking me to dispute the charge with my credit card company. Is this the correct approach to go by? Should VRBO not mediate the situation further and attempt to come to some judgment the least?

I have not left a review on the rental just yet hoping that the owner might return my deposit but it seems like this is not progressing anywhere with VRBO.

What would your suggestions be on what I ought to do? Its a 200$ deposit and the fact we were simply just blamed for something we had not done is just uncalled for.

Sorry for the long post :(

Regards,
Hisham
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,700
13,757
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
If VRBO is telling you to dispute the charge - I would do it. You don't want to lose the time frame that you can do a chargeback. Unfortunately - VRBO doesn't get involved in things like this. However, I would question their Security Deposit Guarantee program. They should be fighting this - or have they already tried? Did you file this:

You submit a completed Book with Confidence Guarantee Reimbursement Request Form (the "Reimbursement Request Form") within the required time periods set forth below.

https://www.homeaway.com/info/legal/terms-conditions/bookwithconfidence

She told you the grill was "packed away" due to the snow. If it was "packed away" how could you have used it? I agree with you that if it was correctly secured, the tarps can blow around and rub against furniture and get destroyed as well as animals destroying it. We had squirrels tear apart the tarps on our patio furnishings a few years ago when they were building nests.

Did you by and chance book the Damage Protection insurance VRBO offers?
 
Nov 6, 2018
4
0
1
32
#3
If VRBO is telling you to dispute the charge - I would do it. You don't want to lose the time frame that you can do a chargeback. Unfortunately - VRBO doesn't get involved in things like this. However, I would question their Security Deposit Guarantee program. They should be fighting this - or have they already tried? Did you file this:

You submit a completed Book with Confidence Guarantee Reimbursement Request Form (the "Reimbursement Request Form") within the required time periods set forth below.

https://www.homeaway.com/info/legal/terms-conditions/bookwithconfidence

She told you the grill was "packed away" due to the snow. If it was "packed away" how could you have used it? I agree with you that if it was correctly secured, the tarps can blow around and rub against furniture and get destroyed as well as animals destroying it. We had squirrels tear apart the tarps on our patio furnishings a few years ago when they were building nests.

Did you by and chance book the Damage Protection insurance VRBO offers?
Hi Neil,

Unfortunately I had not taken the Damage Protection insurance as we had being very careful with the rentals we had been to. As in, ensured that the place is left the same way as we had arrived to. We had thus thought it would not be required.

I had a look at the Book with Confidence and noticed the following :-

You will receive the protections afforded under the Program if all of the following occur:

  • You incur a loss of funds due to a Protected Incident (a “Loss”);
  • You notify HomeAway.com, Inc. (“HomeAway,” “We,” “Us,” “Our”) of your loss within the required time periods set forth below;
  • You are denied reimbursement for your loss of funds from (i) the property advertiser (the “Advertiser”), and (ii) your bank, payment provider or credit card issuer (as applicable); and
  • You submit a completed Book with Confidence Guarantee Reimbursement Request Form (the "Reimbursement Request Form") within the required time periods set forth below.
The reimbursement would be applicable only if we are denied reimbursement by both the property owner as well as the payment provider. I guess which is why VRBO is asking me to raise a dispute on the transaction. I had asked them as to why they forwarded the security deposit when they know that a case has been raised and as to why they cannot 'judge' based on the correspondence and proof provided to which they asked me to raise a dispute with the transaction.

I am in two minds right now as we are talking about 200$ and am uncertain on the legality of performing a chargeback. Which is why I need some advice and direction on how this matter ought to be handled. I am all out for settling amicably but the owner does not seem to be at all interested in heeding my words. After all, my money is in their hands. :(

Regards,
Hisham
 
Mar 14, 2018
185
214
43
#4
You shouldn't worry about the legality of a chargeback. They charged you for damages you didn't do. That's a completely legitimate basis.

She needs to show that you caused the damage, not just that it was present after you left. When did her housekeeper inspect the unit prior to your arrival? If it had been a day or more, the damage could easily have occurred after the inspection given that the deck is outdoors and not secured. The fact that you can show you arrived late at night and the damage was present the following morning certainly supports your assertion that you didn't cause the damage.

Even if you did remove the tarp, she can't withhold your deposit as a penalty for disregarding her request not to use the grill. She can only charge you for actual damage. I can't imagine how replacing a tarp would cost $200.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Nov 6, 2018
4
0
1
32
#6
smd - I honestly do not know when the housekeeper inspected the unit prior to our arrival. We have not done our due diligence prior unfortunately had I known that situations like these are common with rentals. It is obviously a lesson learnt for myself.

All that she had said was that her housekeeper had sent pictures of the outdoor deck stuff being left untarped when she/he had come to rental after we had left (no idea exactly when) and that she had personally tarped it and had never had an incident such as this in the 10 years of her owning and renting. Those were her words.

Her basis for withholding the $200 is that she has to travel from NY to NH to sort the tarp issue out as well as for lost time and what not.

jsn55 - The photo I have is the following day morning as the night of our arrival my friend had the collision with the moose. As to why I had mentioned that is to somehow drive the fact that we simply had no time the night of our arrival to even think about prepping up for a BBQ using her 'packed up' grill considering that we had to co-ordinate with the police for the police report (vehicle damaged was a rental).

I have been patient, polite and quite persistent and have all emails to show the same, but i guess the owner has just washed her hands off this and VRBO advocating me to dispute the charge.

The following was the message she had sent me stating that she is withholding the deposit and mind you, this is without even having the courtesy to reach out to me to inquire as to what had or might have happened :-

The renter sent me an email inquiring if there was a bbq they could use. I responded the same evening saying absolutely NOT, that due to the cold weather and possible adverse conditions during this time of year that everything on the back deck has been tarped and covered and they were NOT to use the bbq. There were several emailss back and forth (please feel free to see my inbox and sent messages on this matter where I specifically told them NO they cannot use the bbq). Despite my so advising, they unilaterally untarped and uncovered ALL the deck furniture and bbq outside -- I have a pic taken by my housekeeper evidencing their breach of the contract NOT to move items or to not adhere to what I, as landlord, so instructed. If you wish a pic I can provide same. Now I am forced to take a trip up to the condo from New York to re-tarp and care for my property - the costs of which far exceed the $200 security deposit being sought. The ferries alone cost in excess of $120 + the gas incurred as well as my loss of time from work to go up to the condo to fix this situation and protect my property. Please DO NOT refund ANY of the $200 security deposit and please remit to me. Your prompt attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated. My instructions were blatently disregarded and disobeyed, unfortunately, at a cost to me.... Please advise ASAP. Thank you! This is the first time I have ever had to withhold a renter's security deposit. I am quite disappointed and annoyed at these renters. Judy DiFranco

Her 'several' emails comprises of just 2 mails on the subject.

She denied refund on October 24th and till now there is no sign of any arbitration on the matter via VRBO nor the owner's interest to respond to my last email either. I was thinking about disputing the transaction via my credit card but was wondering whether it would be worth the risk of any legal disputes arising out of the chargeback considering its a $200 deposit.

Regards,
Hisham
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,700
13,757
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
i have a nagging feeling that perhaps the housekeeper hadn’t been doing her job checking outside and you got caught up in this. I might ask the owner when the last time the House was rented before and after you were there.

Let us know how your credit card dispute goes. The fact you have pictures of the deck bring untatoed should help you in the dispute. I hope you have filed the dispute already.
 
Likes: Warren
Nov 6, 2018
4
0
1
32
#8
i have a nagging feeling that perhaps the housekeeper hadn’t been doing her job checking outside and you got caught up in this. I might ask the owner when the last time the House was rented before and after you were there.

Let us know how your credit card dispute goes. The fact you have pictures of the deck bring untatoed should help you in the dispute. I hope you have filed the dispute already.
I guess I will have to file a credit card dispute considering that my efforts with both the owner and VRBO are in vain. VRBO is of absolutely no help and they are actually advocating the use of disputing the transaction rather than them trying to arbitrate the matter.

Will let you know how it goes and thanks all for your replies!

Regards,
Hisham