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Vacation property wants damage deposit a month before and a month after...?
January 16, 2012 2:28 AM   Subscribe

I am taking a short (weekend) let on a holiday property just outside of London, UK. It's a big house with lots of bedrooms that is used for weddings, hen parties and corporate team-building as well as for family holidays. In addition to 100% payment in full in advance (which I expected), the people letting the property are demanding £1l as a damage deposit one month before I arrive at the property. Their T&Cs state that they will give this back to me one month after I leave the property.

Taking a damage deposit a month in advance and not giving it back until a month after seems onerous to me, and it puts me in a vulnerable position. It doesn't help that I know someone else who let the property and he said he had to chase them to get his deposit back. What if damage occurs after my stay? What if the company goes out of business after my stay?

I have offered numerous compromises such as putting the money into escrow, having them pre-auth the money on a credit card, or giving them the money in cash on the day of rental for them to return to me the day I leave. They refuse to accept these compromises, which I find weird as no other short lets company I have ever used (and I've used several) has demanded these terms.

Is this legit? Is there anything in the short-lets world that is akin to the deposit protection scheme used for private tenants?

Can you think of any other angles that might give me a bit of protection?
posted by skylar to Law & Government (16 answers total)
 
If you pay by credit card then the card company will be jointly liable for any losses I believe, so that should give you some protection against the company going bankrupt. Also it means that you can chase the credit card company for repayment if the owner is tardy with repayment.

It wouldn't surprise me if the owners have had a bad experience or two in the past & had to pay out of pocket to restore significant damage to their property. Once bitten, twice shy and all that. Keeping the extra for a month before and after seems extreme to me however. I've no idea what justification they have for that, unless they are in fact cash flow sensitive in which case you're right to be worried about the company going bankrupt on you.
posted by pharm at 2:41 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


They refuse to take credit cards.
posted by skylar at 2:43 AM on January 16, 2012


For just the deposit? Or for everything?
posted by pharm at 2:45 AM on January 16, 2012


What if damage occurs after my stay?

Request that someone from the letting company meet you on check-in and check-out and accompany you round the property to note and photograph and damage. (Just as if you were moving into a regular rented property, basically). Have that person sign and date the notes, and keep a copy each.

Then once you get home, you can start pestering the company every day asking when you will get your £1k back - after all, you have a signed and dated document from their member of staff that states there was no damage, so there's no need for delay.

They refuse to take credit cards.

You can do chargebacks on Visa & Mastercard debit cards too.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:45 AM on January 16, 2012


It seems unreasonable, but, at the same time, it seems permissible because they are telling you in advance. That is, I can imagine an unscrupulous business simply not telling you that they will wait a month to return it to you.

This is an opportunity to "vote with your feet," and go elsewhere.
posted by jayder at 3:28 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


How are you 'able' to pay your deposits - by cheque or are they keen to get it off you by some other, less traceable means?
posted by mippy at 4:28 AM on January 16, 2012


The delay before returning the deposit covers them in case problems take some time to emerge. OTOH the delay also ensures you are some distance away before you can complain about non-return.

If you don't feel comfortable dealing with them then don't. I personally would look elsewhere.
posted by epo at 4:29 AM on January 16, 2012


They won't take cards unfortunately. They want all money transferred to them via BACS / bank transfer.

So it's not that they want a less traceable means of payment...but still it's very unusual in my experience for a lettings company not to take payment by card. They will have the actual money itself, which makes me think they want it for cashflow reasons.
posted by skylar at 4:53 AM on January 16, 2012


I travel frequently in the UK and Ireland--this is a business that is not worried about attracting or retaining retail clients: I can understand( but with difficulty) demanding a 100% advance deposit and the damage deposit for large parties, corporate clients, weddings etc. For the small retail client it is excessive and onerous. Nevertheless--it is their business.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:56 AM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


That seems a fairly high amount, is it a fairly pricey rental? I put down a damage waiver of £200 for a house full (12+) of people just before xmas.

I am afraid that how quickly they return deposits is luck of the draw, I have done ok with the ones I have put down.

What if damage occurs after my stay?

Well then you don't have a leg to stand on, you have to pay for it, why would you expect any different? Are you concerned they will be free with the charges? The solution here is not to invite dickheads. I have organised big group events for friends for the last 7 years and we have not had any significant issues. These kinds of companies are concerned about the kind of renters who think they have a licence to trash the place once they have paid the rent, that may be why the amount is so high.

They refuse to take credit cards.

I would guess they want a direct transfer to their bank account, this will be traceable at least, make sure it is marked as 'damage waiver' when you pass it over if you do go with this company.
posted by biffa at 4:57 AM on January 16, 2012


Biffa, OP means what of the damage occurs after they leave but before the deposit is returned-in the intervening month.
posted by purenitrous at 7:33 AM on January 16, 2012


To me this screams of a business with cash flow problems. If it's a limited company, do a search at Companies House to see if there's any pending insolvency proceedings. Just put in the name of the company and it'll bring up the company registration. Click on the number on the left, and it opens with further info, including whether there are any pending insolvency petitions or winding-up orders.
posted by essexjan at 7:49 AM on January 16, 2012


The solution here is not to invite dickheads.

I'd argue the solution is not to rent from dickheads.
posted by jayder at 8:05 AM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Taking a damage deposit a month in advance and not giving it back until a month after seems onerous to me, and it puts me in a vulnerable position. It doesn't help that I know someone else who let the property and he said he had to chase them to get his deposit back.

so look elsewhere? why would you want to deal with people from you know you will probably have to hassle to get your deposit back after all that? do you think talking them into more agreeable terms is going to change that fact?
posted by violetk at 12:42 PM on January 16, 2012


Taking a damage deposit a month in advance and not giving it back until a month after seems onerous to me, and it puts me in a vulnerable position. It doesn't help that I know someone else who let the property and he said he had to chase them to get his deposit back.

I missed that part about your friend having trouble getting his deposit back. Wow. Would you mind telling us why you're fixated on this property, instead of just finding another venue that is more congenial?

You complain about being put in a vulnerable position. You're putting yourself in a vulnerable position. You each have something the other wants; you've got money they want to have, they've got property you want to use. They're saying "these are our conditions for you using our property, take it or leave it." Why aren't you saying, "these are my conditions for you getting my money, take it or leave it"?
posted by jayder at 1:53 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


As far as I can think, the only reason for a company that does large transactions not to take credit cards is because they can't get a credit card company to authorise their transactions because they're dodgy. If I were you, I'd avoid.
posted by ambrosen at 2:45 PM on January 25, 2012


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