VRBO/Home Away Refusing to Assist with Refund for COVID-19 Cancellation

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Apr 28, 2020
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Has anyone had any success or have suggestions as too how to get assistance in obtaining a refund for a VRBO rental that has to be cancelled due to the global pandemic?

I am the proud mother of a soon-to-be graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans. In anticipation of this exciting event, I booked a three night rental of a home near Tulane to celebrate. We were planning to celebrate this important event with four generations of family. As you know, college graduations around the world have been cancelled. And, New Orleans is a particularity hard hit by the virus.

I have been told by front-line customer support at VRBO that they can not help me. The decision rests with the home owner. They said they advise home owners to refund half the rental. My home owner has refunded my security deposit and cleaning fee. He insists on keeping 100% of the rental, lodging tax and service fee. He is now only emailing me from a different email address so it is not captured by VRBO and has not officially cancelled the reservation on the website. I know he's playing games that I don't understand and has no intention of working with me. I have told him that the 50% refund of the rental and 100% of the lodging tax and service fee works for me. He refuses.

What are my options? This money is important to my family. And it seems unreasonable that we should have to shoulder 100% of this $3,000-plus financial loss. HELP!!!

Property ID 1694177
Reservation ID -removed
Renters Name: - removed
Renters Phone Number: removed

Edited by moderator to remove personal information.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,021
22,975
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
VRBO is a totally unregulated area and they can’t force an owner to refund money for a canceled booking. They only can “recommend”.

We have many similar issues here and there is really nothing you can do except contact the Attorney General in your state and file a complaint. If they get enough complaints about these type of websites, perhaps they will do something.

I think this is showing why hotels might be better choices than this type of booking.

This story might help you understand where you stand.

 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
1,482
1,668
113
47
St Louis
I would be interested to know how the lodging tax is paid and who it is paid to. And if that tax is actually being paid to the corresponding authority. I can't speak to refund of the rental although I know there have been problems with VRBO and owners and guests.
 
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Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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While I agree that a 50% refund of rent paid is the fairest way to handle this, unfortunately, you cannot make the landlord refund your money other than take him to small claims court. You are at the mercy of the landlord since VRBO is only a platform to 'introduce' renters and landlords. Wish we had better news for you.
 

smd

Mar 14, 2018
591
962
93
VRBO is a totally unregulated area and they can’t force an owner to refund money for a canceled booking. They only can “recommend”.

We have many similar issues here and there is really nothing you can do except contact the Attorney General in your state and file a complaint. If they get enough complaints about these type of websites, perhaps they will do something.

I think this is showing why hotels might be better choices than this type of booking.
[/URL]
I'm not sure what complaining to the Attorney General will accomplish. The owner is enforcing the terms of the contract that both parties agreed to. When bad things happen, someone is going to take a loss. And contracts are largely about what happens when things go bad--If things are good, the parties can usually work things out without resorting to contract language.

If the OP wants to change this, they can complain to their state legislators and advocate for laws that require cancellations and refunds. But this kind of law will have its own unintended consequences.
 
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smd

Mar 14, 2018
591
962
93
While I agree that a 50% refund of rent paid is the fairest way to handle this, unfortunately, you cannot make the landlord refund your money other than take him to small claims court.
I don't see how small claims court is a viable option either, unless the contract allows for refunds and the landlord isn't complying.
 
Jun 24, 2019
640
1,216
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While I agree that a 50% refund of rent paid is the fairest way to handle this, unfortunately, you cannot make the landlord refund your money other than take him to small claims court. You are at the mercy of the landlord since VRBO is only a platform to 'introduce' renters and landlords. Wish we had better news for you.
I don’t see how small claims court is an option unless the landlord and the renter live relatively near each other in the same state.
 
Apr 28, 2020
3
0
1
37
VRBO is a totally unregulated area and they can’t force an owner to refund money for a canceled booking. They only can “recommend”.

We have many similar issues here and there is really nothing you can do except contact the Attorney General in your state and file a complaint. If they get enough complaints about these type of websites, perhaps they will do something.

I think this is showing why hotels might be better choices than this type of booking.

This story might help you understand where you stand.

Thank you for the information. I will NEVER get near VRBO again. I mistakenly thought all such sites were about the same. I will continue to attempt to get some "fair" resolution. He may have the upper hand when it comes to legal, but from a moral perspective he's bankrupt.
 
Apr 28, 2020
3
0
1
37
While I agree that a 50% refund of rent paid is the fairest way to handle this, unfortunately, you cannot make the landlord refund your money other than take him to small claims court. You are at the mercy of the landlord since VRBO is only a platform to 'introduce' renters and landlords. Wish we had better news for you.
[/QUO
I would be interested to know how the lodging tax is paid and who it is paid to. And if that tax is actually being paid to the corresponding authority. I can't speak to refund of the rental although I know there have been problems with VRBO and owners and guests.
How would I/we get an answer to lodging tax in NOLA?
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
1,482
1,668
113
47
St Louis
I would do a google search about New Orleans lodging tax and go from there. It will likely give you who the tax is paid to as well as the percentage. They may also have a number or email address so you can find out if a rental is registered. I know they do have that ability in many jurisdictions.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,021
22,975
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Thank you for the information. I will NEVER get near VRBO again. I mistakenly thought all such sites were about the same. I will continue to attempt to get some "fair" resolution. He may have the upper hand when it comes to legal, but from a moral perspective he's bankrupt.
I think a lot of people are going to go back to booking regular hotels after this mess.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,911
3,506
113
Thank you for the information. I will NEVER get near VRBO again. I mistakenly thought all such sites were about the same. I will continue to attempt to get some "fair" resolution. He may have the upper hand when it comes to legal, but from a moral perspective he's bankrupt.
So true.
 
May 6, 2020
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It is not VRBO's fault. I have booked with them for September, canceled and received a refund.
I looked up the property mentioned, Property ID 1694177, and it clearly states:

Cancellation Policy
Canceled bookings will not receive a refund

ALWAYS verify cancellation policies when booking.
 
Sep 27, 2018
197
274
63
62
While I agree that a 50% refund of rent paid is the fairest way to handle this, unfortunately, you cannot make the landlord refund your money other than take him to small claims court. You are at the mercy of the landlord since VRBO is only a platform to 'introduce' renters and landlords. Wish we had better news for you.
Even before the pandemic, VRBOs claim they were only a classified ad was being eroded by all the services they were offering like insurance, scheduling, keeping a percentage of the rental fees, payment portal, etc. They acted like a real estate agent until a problem arose, then they claimed they're only an on-line classified ad. I don't see how they survive in their present form, but then I don't understand Spirit Airlines.
 
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Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,911
3,506
113
@FrankL183 Oh, do I hear you! And completely agree. I rented a house through VRBO once a few years ago and was a nervous wreck until we checked in. It was a beautiful home and a lovely owner and I figure, you only hit gold once, so have never rented through them again.
 
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