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Angry Renter wants full refund on non-refundable rental

JudyS

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Well, I am in a real bind because of Covid-19. I have seven rentals through AirBnB -- AirBnB is not paying me, even if it was a "strict" reservation.

I thought the rentals I made privately might be OK -- they all say non-refundable -- but all my renters want refunds. One is renter seems quite angry and complained to Redweek before he even heard from me. He is insisting that Vistana is giving all of its owners refunds. (That's news to me! Has anyone hear *anyting* like that!)

This was a booking made privately, through a listing on Redweek. The rental agreement said no refunds. The PayPal invoice also said no refunds.

I would like to make things right by giving refunds. The things is, I need the money to pay my (numerous) annual timeshare fees this fall. I have been severely disabled for over a decade and my medical bills are enormous. I was trying to make a little money towards our bills by renting timeshares. My husband lost his job on January 6th and we don't have money for the medicine I need. (We have applied for Medicaid, but have been turned down so far.) We are putting our house up for sale in the hopes of paying our medical bills, but the realtors we've spoken to don't think the house is worth much.

I really don't want to leave my renters holding the bag. But, I don't know what to do.

Judy
 

lockewong

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Well, I am in a real bind because of Covid-19. I have seven rentals through AirBnB -- AirBnB is not paying me, even if it was a "strict" reservation.

I thought the rentals I made privately might be OK -- they all say non-refundable -- but all my renters want refunds. One is renter seems quite angry and complained to Redweek before he even heard from me. He is insisting that Vistana is giving all of its owners refunds. (That's news to me! Has anyone hear *anyting* like that!)

This was a booking made privately, through a listing on Redweek. The rental agreement said no refunds. The PayPal invoice also said no refunds.

I would like to make things right by giving refunds. The things is, I need the money to pay my (numerous) annual timeshare fees this fall. I have been severely disabled for over a decade and my medical bills are enormous. I was trying to make a little money towards our bills by renting timeshares. My husband lost his job on January 6th and we don't have money for the medicine I need. (We have applied for Medicaid, but have been turned down so far.) We are putting our house up for sale in the hopes of paying our medical bills, but the realtors we've spoken to don't think the house is worth much.

I really don't want to leave my renters holding the bag. But, I don't know what to do.

Judy
Dear Judy:

This is a very unfortunate situation for you. Have you seen Denise M's post on the Vistana Website? I cut and pasted it for you.

Dear Owner,

We recognize that the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) are impacting travel plans for many of our Owners and guests. With this in mind, we want to provide additional updates to help you respond to the current situation in connection with any reservations or resort information you may have or need.

Reservation Modifications & Cancellations
Our global Owner Services teams are diligently assisting those Owners whose travel plans have changed, resulting in longer hold times than usual. We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding.

For arrivals within 75 days:

As always, you are able to cancel an existing reservation by logging into your Owner website. You can also cancel an existing reservation by calling Owner Services.

For arrivals more than 75 days from today:

For Owners with travel plans more than 75 days from today, we ask that you please contact Owner Services at a later date to allow us to serve those Owners with more immediate travel plans. As a reminder, all Owners may also plan and reserve future stays at your Owner website, 24-hours a day/7-days a week.

Resort & Area Information
Our global response teams continue to provide around-the-clock assistance to our resorts, and we remain committed to the safety and well-being of our Owners and guests during these difficult times.

The rapidly evolving situation associated with COVID-19 may also require adjustments to be made to the availability of some onsite amenities and services for the health and safety of our Owners, guests, and associates. Additionally, local, state, and federal governments continue to provide additional guidance that may affect our resorts, resort amenities and/or local attractions.

While we recommend that Owners check publicly available resources prior to traveling, soon we plan to begin posting updates on both resort operating conditions and key area information via your Owner website to assist our Owners with travel planning.

As it has always been, the safety and security of our Owners, guests and associates remains our focus. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to respond to this unprecedented situation, and we thank you as always for being part of Vistana Signature Experiences family.

Sincerely,

Owner Services
Vistana Signature Experiences

As such, you might want to cut and paste this on your reply to your angry renter. If you contract stated clearly and with notice that there are "No Refunds;" then, you are not legally bound to refund. This a an "Extraordinary circumstance". and maybe under an "Act of God" you are not legally bound because it was not foreseeable. I would contact your timeshare people and find out if you can rebook without cost. But, it seems that you are financially in a bind and need resources quickly. Go to your Legal Aid people in Ann Arbor and see what they say. You have community resources, whether at the University of Michigan School of Law, they must have a legal services group that does community outreach. Get some legal help. You may need to Skype or remotely have a conference. Do not panic yet. I do not know if Redbook will be available. It seems that they are not responding to the owners like you per the other posts.

You want to do the right thing by your renters, so you need to take a step back and see what legal responsibilities you have first and then, decide. Good luck.
 

rickandcindy23

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Are these weeks that you have in Vistana or Options?
 

CPNY

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Well, I am in a real bind because of Covid-19. I have seven rentals through AirBnB -- AirBnB is not paying me, even if it was a "strict" reservation.

I thought the rentals I made privately might be OK -- they all say non-refundable -- but all my renters want refunds. One is renter seems quite angry and complained to Redweek before he even heard from me. He is insisting that Vistana is giving all of its owners refunds. (That's news to me! Has anyone hear *anyting* like that!)

This was a booking made privately, through a listing on Redweek. The rental agreement said no refunds. The PayPal invoice also said no refunds.

I would like to make things right by giving refunds. The things is, I need the money to pay my (numerous) annual timeshare fees this fall. I have been severely disabled for over a decade and my medical bills are enormous. I was trying to make a little money towards our bills by renting timeshares. My husband lost his job on January 6th and we don't have money for the medicine I need. (We have applied for Medicaid, but have been turned down so far.) We are putting our house up for sale in the hopes of paying our medical bills, but the realtors we've spoken to don't think the house is worth much.

I really don't want to leave my renters holding the bag. But, I don't know what to do.

Judy
Judy, it all depends on your situation. However with this renter it seems they want to make a huge deal. Do they have your information? If so, I’d give the refund. If they have no information on you then their approach isn’t one that would make you want to go above and beyond. Offer to move the reservation to another week as a good gesture based on availability or another resort just to help them out. Push it later in the year if possible.
 

DeniseM

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Judy - Even if check-in is within 60 days, you can still offer your renters some alternatives. However, based on Vistana's past practice (hurricanes) if an owner cannot utilize their reservation due to travel bans, airlines grounded, or resorts being shutdown, Vistana will have to give owners their weeks or Staroptions back. They just haven't done it yet.

Even if none of those things happen, you can still cancel the reservations right up to the day before check-in, and recover the restricted Staroptions for the guest's future use at any resort in the Vistana System. So it makes sense, to hang tight, and see what Vistana offers. There is no advantage to making an early cancellation, and possibly missing out on a better alternative that Vistana may offer in the future.

As far as your angry guest goes, you want to make sure that they understand that there are still options open, and you will do everything in your power to help him reschedule his reservation. Be positive and explain the possible alternatives.

If you can contact the AirBnB renters, send them a upbeat email ASAP, explaining the same thing. If you are positive and reassuring, your renter's will feel more comfortable and will be more patient as the options unfold.
 
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DeniseM

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I write in on all rental agreements. No refunds unless I can find another renter. Travel Insurance is recommended.

AirBnB and similar companies control the money, so they control the refunds, regardless of what you put on your rental agreement.
 

JudyS

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Thanks for the input!

This is an Orlando reservation, no StarOptions. I would be happy to book for him later in the year. But, he wants a refund, not a postponement,, and he wants it like yesterday.


If you can contact the AirBnB renters, send them a upbeat email ASAP, explaining the same thing. If you are positive and reassuring, your renter's will feel more comfortable and will be more patient as the options unfold.
The AIrBnB renters aren't even contacting me. They contact AirBnB directly, who cancels the reservation and my payment.

I write in on all rental agreements. No refunds unless I can find another renter. Travel Insurance is recommended.
Yes, my rental agreements say that, too.
 

DeniseM

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Unfortunately, that is the downside to AirBnB and similar companies - they are great until a problem arises.
 

JudyS

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Judy, it all depends on your situation. However with this renter it seems they want to make a huge deal. Do they have your information? If so, I’d give the refund. If they have no information on you then their approach isn’t one that would make you want to go above and beyond. Offer to move the reservation to another week as a good gesture based on availability or another resort just to help them out. Push it later in the year if possible.
So, I have thought of that, too. They have my information, so I may have to come up with the refund even if that means a credit card advance. Otherwise, they could harass me.

I just can't believe how many financial problems are hitting me at once!
 

CPNY

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So, I have thought of that, too. They have my information, so I may have to come up with the refund even if that means a credit card advance. Otherwise, they could harass me.

I just can't believe how many financial problems are hitting me at once!
You’re not the only one. See if they will accept another week. I did that and was able to push the rental out to August. After that there will be no refunds.
 

JudyS

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I already asked if the renter would take a week later in the year, and even offered the renter an upgrade to a larger room, and he said no.
 

bogey21

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I'll bet many Renters have no interest in alternatives due to their eroding financial condition. They probably can't afford to travel as money set aside for vacations is now needed for survival...

George
 

theo

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I already asked if the renter would take a week later in the year, and even offered the renter an upgrade to a larger room, and he said no.

I know nothing about Vistana cancellation / re-booking policies, so the following is offered while acknowledging that ignorance.

In view of the fact that your rental agreement reportedly very clearly states "no refunds, purchase of trip cancellation insurance is recommended" (and you have signature acknowledgement and acceptance of same), it is certainly not your responsibility to just ignore that legal agreement to make the back-pedaling tenants whole --- contrary to the agreement they voluntarily executed. Will these "extenuating circumstances" result in you not being fully responsible for maintenance fees for that week? I think not.

The would-be tenants apparently chose not to acquire trip cancellation insurance, despite an overt recommendation to do so. Are the financial consequences of their unfortunate and risky decision now somehow yours to bear instead? Again, I think not. You clearly have your own hands full at this time; I empathize with your plight and pray for some positive developments and changes for you. Meanwhile, at least in my view, your would-be tenants are simply "SOL". They rolled the dice --- and lost. Period, amen. The End.
 
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vacationhopeful

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Sorry this is happening to you. Your renter believes YOU should 'just understand' …. but you are NOT a 'big operation' and YOUR contract states "NO REFUNDS". Leave them to chase you … as YOU offered something .. but it was NOT want they wanted. TRIP INSURANCE was their way to protect a lost.
 

bluehende

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Stories like yours are heartbreaking. Know that I am sending you all the good thoughts and karma I can.

To give my opinion. You have to look after yourself. You had a very clearly stated policy. Your obligations are clearly none. Getting your money may be another matter and I would certainly be playing hard ball with any middleman trying to break their contracts. Having said that as a human being I would feel obligated to mitigate any loss of the renter that I can. This would mean any compensation or accomodation I am getting from my timeshare would be given to the renter. No less no more.
 

Panina

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Seems many want someone else to take the losses they incurred. The contract said no refunds. I think in the future the contacts should be more specific. No refunds for any reason, you take the risk for natural disasters, sicknesses, etc thus if you choose not to get private insurance and you cannot go there will be no refund for no matter what the reason.

@JudyS I am sorry how much you are going through now. I was in your position years ago with almost losing everything due to a medical illness. Things got worse before it got better. Try to have hope that it will get better.
 

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Judy, there are never two equal and logical sides to an argument.

Should AirBnB continue to refuse to pay you, what options are you left with? At some point, if both you and AirBnB continue to stand your ground, this may
end up in court. Are you prepared to initiate that process? That's going to cost you even more time and money, with no guarantee of winning your case. Given this
whole virus issue you may have no other choice than to accept that some people are afraid to travel.
 

chellej

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Can you maybe defer him by telling him that redweek has not paid you so you cannot refund something you have not received? Try and put it back on redweeks court. Worst case, unless he has your address is small claims court and legally I would think you are ok.

I am sorry for your troubles.
 

WVBaker

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Can you maybe defer him by telling him that redweek has not paid you so you cannot refund something you have not received? Try and put it back on redweeks court. Worst case, unless he has your address is small claims court and legally I would think you are ok.

I am sorry for your troubles.

Please keep this mind that obtaining anyone's address, telephone number and personal information is far easier than you may think. AirBnB, Redweek, etc., will be happy
to throw an owner under the bus, so to speak, than to have to deal with problems like this.

I've talked with my attorney about situations just like this, only because I also rent out units. The advice given was that the Covid-19 virus has presented the travel industry with a whole new problem. Courts will begin to look at cases just like this and bring to light the ever famous extenuating circumstances argument. They judge could and probably will, consider the virus and it's threat as an exceptional factor in determining justification for breaching a contract.

Is that what will happen? Nobody knows at this point. If you feel secure in wanting to take that road then by all means, do so. I don't think I would be willing to chance the time and expense needed in hopes of maintaining a few hundred dollars in rental income. But, that's just my opinion.
 

CPNY

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I already asked if the renter would take a week later in the year, and even offered the renter an upgrade to a larger room, and he said no.
Then no money back. You don’t have to work with him but he should be willing to work with you. The options become restricted do not cancel. I was lucky enough to have a rep book me a week In August. Keep the money and let him know you’ll be cancelling the reservation then keep the options for yourself. Don’t worry about redweek since he paid you directly. Smart. I on the other hand have redweek holding my money (NEVER AGAIN)
 

CPNY

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I'll bet many Renters have no interest in alternatives due to their eroding financial condition. They probably can't afford to travel as money set aside for vacations is now needed for survival...

George
Very true. They also need to understand that owners have eroding financial situations as well. Most not all are losing right now.
 

CPNY

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Please keep this mind that obtaining anyone's address, telephone number and personal information is far easier than you may think. AirBnB, Redweek, etc., will be happy
to throw an owner under the bus, so to speak, than to have to deal with problems like this.

I've talked with my attorney about situations just like this, only because I also rent out units. The advice given was that the Covid-19 virus has presented the travel industry with a whole new problem. Courts will begin to look at cases just like this and bring to light the ever famous extenuating circumstances argument. They judge could and probably will, consider the virus and it's threat as an exceptional factor in determining justification for breaching a contract.

Is that what will happen? Nobody knows at this point. If you feel secure in wanting to take that road then by all means, do so. I don't think I would be willing to chance the time and expense needed in hopes of maintaining a few hundred dollars in rental income. But, that's just my opinion.
I’ll draft contracts from now on that will have no refunds under any circumstance and will include asteroids colliding with earth, famines, virus pandemics, wild fires, up to and including an invasion by spaceballs trying to suck the oxygen from earth.
 

rickandcindy23

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I took money from our Roth IRA to refund people as this arises. I am hoping this pandemic ends by the beginning of summer. I have people going to Myrtle Beach this summer. I doubt this will remain an issue after June 1st, but that could be wishful thinking on my part.
 
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