Rented Beachouse problems: What's the best/proper way to handle a situation where a rental house had problems? Some are severe others are just broken promises on the owner's part. Free wedding update inside!
posted by RolandOfEld to law & government (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
[Feel free to skip down some for the meat, I'm going to rant here a bit, 'cuz I love you guys and gals.]
So, we got married on the beach where we met after 10 years of being together, in sin, sooo much sin, hehe. It was great. My friends and family busted their butts to help as we did alot of the work ourselves. AskMe was great at helping me source materials and vet ideas. The rehearsal featured a delicious crawfish boil, (thanks Uncle F). The ceremony rocked with strangers in adjacent beachhouses setting off an amazing display of [unplanned] fireworks for us after our first kiss. The overcast weather didn't rain but provided great photography lighting and lower temperatures on the sand for our guests. The dancing was great and nobody got splinters on the deck-cum-dancefloor under the house. Only one person got their car stuck in the sand and that was the quite competent bartender we hired through a friend and we got him out without much hassle at all.
Win, win, win. Win all around.
Except for the house which doubled as the venue for rehearsal, wedding, and reception. It had... problems. The owner did make an effort to be accommodating and get things fixed but, all the same, we were quite a bit put out in some quite significant ways.
So, details follow.
First off, the rental contract with the owner is held by MsEld's mother. We have not seen it, though we did pay for a significant chunk of things. This is frustrating but not worth bringing up again. We were there for two weeks and there is no rental company involved, just person to person as far as I understand things.
The ladies of the family had previously went and toured the house months ago to see if it was suitable for our wedding, as we were doing alot of the cooking/prep/hosting onsite and needed it to be large enough to host friends [read: slave labor], cook meals (wedding and daily grub), and provide adequate beach access for the ceremony itself. We did everything aboveboard with the owner, who said he had hosted similar weddings there before successfully. They found it to be a satisfactory location, doubly so since the owner mentioned several things that would be included/upgraded/replaced by the time the wedding rolled around, more on that later.
So, we arrive for check-in and the owner and his wife are there painting. Ummm... Ok..... Thanks but we'd like to unpack? He says it's no problem, they're almost done and we can come on in. We do and they leave saying "they'll be back tomorrow to touch up a few places". *sigh* Oh well, we're easy going people and have a week before the ceremony starts no problem. Some exterior painting to freshen things up is a nice gesture. We ask them before they leave about the random junky wall mount air conditioner core sitting on the side of the wrap around deck "Oh we'll get that out of here tomorrow when we come back". *double sigh*... Ok, no problem, life goes on.
They come back the next day and we tell them the wireless isn't working and that's a pretty big deal as we have people who need to get work done while they're in the house. The owner jumps right on getting it fixed but it doesn't work for the first 4 days of our stay. Trips to town, about a half hour drive away, are a pain but must occur for people that need internet and to make/confirm reservations for the wedding. They also "finish painting" but the A/C core is left sitting, not cool.
About this time the upstairs A/C unit (2 central A/C units for the house) stops working. The thermostat shoots up to 84 degrees, a bit less at night. The owner is concerned and calls a maintenance man out right away. Long story short is that the problem wasn't fixed until 2 days after the wedding. That means the 4 bedrooms upstairs, including the Master where MsEld and I were staying, were practically unlivable. People had to relocate to couches downstairs and/or leave if they could find reservations in a booked up Memorial Day beach town. That was a big IF. We were quite embarrassed and upset but didn't scream and yell because we're not that kind of people and the owner really was concerned and having people come out to look at things (3 visits total) as the problem kept cropping up. Plus we felt a bit trapped, this venue was out plan, relocating really wasn't an option.
Also, the septic system includes a pump that pumps out a cistern type unit that's adjacent to the house, next to the stilts on the dance floor-deck. On day 3, when the house wasn't even full of our guests due to the A/C problem and it being early in the week, it began overflowing septic water onto the sand right next to the house every afternoon. This was scary, really scary since we were planning to have the wedding and everything at the house. Septic water/smell is a deal breaker to say the least. Again, the owner got someone out to fix it but by this time had left town and we had to be there to greet, explain, supervise the worker (as we also had to with all the A/C and internet workers). This was a pain but thank god it got fixed.
In the course of all this, the owner let slip that he hadn't rented the house to anyone besides a 'few friends' who 'didn't even use the upstairs' for almost a year. So basically we're the Guinea pigs finding all the kinks in his house that has been sitting for a year.
There were other things that were smaller but still really, really not cool. Like the shower that you use before you come back into the house had no handle so you had to use a pair of robo-grips to get the salt water off of you before you came in. Random construction debris in the sand around the house. The wood floors that were showing extreme wear in the kitchen were not replaced as promised. The upstairs toilet tank leaked and caused about an inch of water to flood the upstairs shared bathroom. A small leak that I fixed myself in a few minutes but I didn't really want to be playing plumber/maid/cleanup crew the week before my wedding ya'know? We had enough on our plate. We worked around and even fixed some of this stuff (like the toilet and the debris) because we had to...
So what do we do, we're wanting to talk to him about getting some of our money back, mostly because of the A/C situation and people being forced to stay elsewhere but also because of the general aggravation we had to deal with, oh and the unkept promises?
The contract holder will be calling him here soon with a list of our grievances and we'll see how that conversation goes, but if it goes sour, what are our options? I fear we may have none simply due to the fact that he has our money and that's that, but I welcome any and all input as to what we could/should do in this situation. We also have professional pictures and a HD video that could be quite useful to him when it comes to advertising his house to future rentors... I mean, what we did was, honestly, above average... carrot/stick, blah blah blah.
ps - Did I mention the owner is a retired worker in the legal sector? Yep, a retired judge, but not from the area. Again, he really tried, and was a great advocate for us, but the rust was just too thick and someone had to knock it off the house... turns out that someone was us.