No hot water in vacation rental - what can I expect?
July 7, 2022 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Hot water heater died at our vacation rental. What’s next?

We have a vacation rental for two weeks. We’ve only been here a couple days and the hot water went out (it did work when we got here). Just learned from the host and his plumber that a part failed and they can’t get a new one until after our stay ends, so we’ll have no hot water for the duration of our stay. What can I expect or what should I ask for in this situation?
posted by markslack to Travel & Transportation around Colorado (10 answers total)
How big is this place? Is it a stand-alone situation or are several units sharing the same water heater?

Point of comparison: the water heater in my small, 2 bedroom house, located in a small (pop 30k) town in downstate IL died last year. The landlord had a new one installed the next day for about $1100.

Granted, it makes more sense to the owner to replace just the part when the heater is apparently otherwise fine. But this isn't about how to best deal with a malfunctioning water heater, this is about assuring you have hot water during your stay - even if that means replacing a water heater that one would normally repair.
posted by she's not there at 4:53 PM on July 7

If it were me, I'd ask the owner to book, and pay for, a reasonable replacement property (even if it's a hotel) for the duration so that I have access to hot water. Cold showers are no fun. Or, as she's not there says, the owner can replace the water heater and coordinate it with your schedule so you are inconvenienced as little as possible. That doesn't mean you should be dickish about it, but if you were planning to hang around the property in the morning, you should say so. You can assert your rights without seeming entitled. After all, you're on vacation and paying the owner to facilitate your vacation, so he should hold up his end of the bargain.
posted by DrGail at 5:14 PM on July 7 [10 favorites]

Best answer: What do you want? If there's alternative lodging that's acceptable to you, I personally would be looking for a full refund for unused days and a partial discount for the days without. But let them make the first offer. Maybe they'll make it worth your while to stay.
posted by wnissen at 5:26 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]

If the reservation was through Airbnb and they listed "hot water" as an amenity, contact them and see if they can find you a refund and/or replacement.
posted by smorgasbord at 5:35 PM on July 7

Yep, not OK. On of the realities of renting property is that you sometimes can’t wait for the part, you have to suck it up and pay for a new water heater.

If you booked through VRBO or AirBNB, there should be a proxy to get a refund and alternative lodging.
posted by rockindata at 6:11 PM on July 7 [9 favorites]

I had an issue last year that I posted about, in which it started with a terrible smell and ended with us not having water. Even with NO WATER, VRBO would not refund our money - they said that it was between the homeowner and us. We took videos, put all communications in texts and took lots of photos, and I was able to get the credit card company to reverse the charges. No matter what you decide to do, start documenting now even if you don't think you'll use it. If you used VRBO, VRBO WILL NOT REFUND YOU ANY AMOUNT. I don't know what AirBnB's policy is. If it were me, I would ask either that they rebook you elsewhere, refund you for days without hot water, or pay to get a new water heater put in tomorrow.
posted by Toddles at 9:15 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]

If the owner thinks waiting until after you leave to repair it is reasonable, then you are dealing with an unreasonable person. You owe them no goodwill.
Start demanding a full refund, and start making new plans.

I say this as someone who is currently running a small vacation rental.
posted by Tunierikson at 11:09 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]

Practically speaking, if there’s a nearby gym, they could get you guest membership for showers etc but no hot water means that things like washing dishes and clothing can be more difficult as well.

Ask them if they know of another property you can use - their own or friends’
posted by sciencegeek at 2:20 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]

I agree that should refund you some percentage of the rental, or provide you with a solution to hot showers.

On another note: I lived without formal hot showers for a year. If you boil hot water, and get a bucket, you can have a hot shower that way - it's not the same, but it will work in a pinch if it's hard to find an alternate space to stay (given that you're in CO, and this is peak tourist season).
posted by coffeecat at 8:41 AM on July 8

Response by poster: wnissen’s comment ended up being what happened - full refund for unused days and partial refund for the couple days we didn’t have hot water. Replacing the appliance was unfortunately not going to be any faster, according to the host. We found a similar place and booked it, and we’ll be moving over there today. The host was super apologetic and easy to work with. Sucks, because the current place was terrific, but what can you do? Thanks for the advice, everyone.
posted by markslack at 10:15 AM on July 9

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