KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON -- Don't rent through VRBO, if you expect any customer service. If you have a problem, you should expect them to side with the owner. Use a credit card to pay - this is the only way that you have any recourse if the owner wants to withhold your deposit. PayPal considers this a service, so they will not give you the time of day. Recently, June 30 - July 15, 2014, I rented a one bedroom condo, rental ID #421106, in Kirkland, WA, $85/night. I have a dispute with the owner about my 'damage' deposit.
The owner has already withheld part of my damage deposit. I ask that my deposit be returned. The gist of the matter is that the owner is withholding a portion of my "damage" deposit, so that she can clean her carpets, in a vain attempt to remove the smell, the mold and mildew smell, that I did not cause. Here is how I found out that she is withhold my deposit:
PayPal note from owner - Note from Sherrie **: Hello David, Because beyond normal cleaning was required to eliminate the odor and mold due to the piled wet towels, I'm holding $100.00 of your damage deposit to cover professional carpet cleaning.
I am a 50 year old man. I don't need the $100.00. It is simply unfair that she is withholding deposit, especially to deal with something that I suffered with my entire stay. I paid the money that I agreed to, for this cheap crappy place. I complained directly to the owner, and not in a review. She is blaming me for the smell. Obvious to anyone who has been in a few old condos in the Pacific Northwest, this smell is from a long term problem. It was there when I arrived, and it will return soon, after she cleans her carpets.
Regarding her complaint about towels on the floor. I used one towel to dry myself my entire visit. I never put it on the floor, until the morning that I was to leave. I left it and two other towels that I had used to cover the couch, before I would not sit on it without a cover, on the floor so that the manager would know which towels I had used. I put dirty my sheets there too. I did not wet the towels, more than by drying myself after my shower and I wouldn't risk leaving something that I was going to use, on my body, on that carpet. It is not reasonable that these towels, left on the bathroom floor that morning, a half hour before I left, caused the mold and mildew smell.
The problem is that there is mold and mildew in her carpets. Among other issues, her bathroom has little ventilation and the shower curtain doesn't prevent water from getting on the carpeted floor. Over time, this has caused the carpets to smell. If she would check, the carpets not only smell in the bathroom, but they also smell in the living room. I didn't cause this. I am simply the messenger. When I was there, I kept the fan on in this place, full-time, to keep the smell down.
This especially irks me, as the owner already takes $200 for cleaning, which is excessive based on charging $85/night. But fine, I had agreed to that. I have no problem, when treated respectfully. The cleaning fee was spelled out in the list of costs. However, to then withhold my damage deposit, when I did no damage, this is unfair.
The place is already overpriced and low rent. When I arrived there was stolen and trashed car in the parking lot. The towels are cheap and worn, the sheets are cheap and the bottom sheet does not fit properly on the mattress. The comforter was made for bargain basement rayon and worn through in several places (manager says that they replaced that). The highest tech in the place is a VCR.
The parking space is so small, if everyone in the building is parked in their spaces, you have to exit the build to get to your door, because you physically cannot get to the back of the garage to get in. I wrote the owner about all of this, except for the part about the stolen car. I asked manager when got my key to report the car. A couple of days later someone hauled it away. But, there was a trash, abandoned car in the parking lot.
Finally, this place had previously received a bad review on the VRBO site, including mentioning the smell. I previewed the place because of that. At that time, in passing, I mentioned to the owner's manager Cecilia that there was a smell. It wasn't overwhelming and this was just one of many other little issues you might find in a crappy place. We agreed that the place was functional. I was already resigned and really stuck, so had no choice but to take it. When I arrived I also signed some kind of paper indicating that the place was in order, down to counting the spoons. It does not mention smell.
Here is the previous review - Title: Not even close to the 2 reviews I used to book this condo. Content: Local channels only on TV. No dishwasher soap, Half a roll of toilet paper, Not very clean, hamper in bathroom is moldy and smells terrible. Stayed April 2014. Submitted April 24, 2014 - Source VRBO.
I do not agree with the owner's assessment that I caused this smell problem, and I am not willing to bear any part of the cost of fixing it. I simply reported it. Besides, why would I report it, if I had caused it? I also called the owner's manager that morning, mentioned the smell and told her that I had sent an email to Sherri. She called later and told me that Sherri had received my email and was not very happy. She mentioned the towels, but she did not say that I was going to get charged for damages. I just ignored it. Again, I put them there for their convenience.
If I had caused the smell, why would I tell them about it? I didn't cause the worn towels or the comforter. They don't charge me for them, because they know that it's not me. I am simply the messenger here. Don't charge the messenger. I want my money back! I want payment for my wasted time. I already paid an agreed upon amount, to stay in this rental. I shouldn't be wasting my time, defending my actions. I did nothing wrong. If anything, I was a great tenant. I was never there. It was too unpleasant. I slept there only.
CHESTERTOWN, NEW JERSEY -- Because I mentioned the amount of the security deposit, VRBO won't publish my review, and they refuse to respond to the help request I sent asking them to revise it. My emails go unanswered. Here is my review: We and three other couples rented this house for a long weekend. The PROS: The house is very nice and the kitchen was furnished for cooking. It's got nice rooms, a nice property & I like that we didn't all have to share one bathroom.
The CONS: I was disappointed that after we agreed on a price the owner informed us that the hot tub was broken but didn't offer to give us a discount. I felt that would have been fair, but let it go. After dinner the first night the sink garbage disposal got clogged. When we started to gather in the living room to play games we couldn't get the living room lights on, and found one of the leather sling chair's stitching was loose so that we couldn't use it.
It was late for calling the caretaker, so I called the next morning. I told her about the 3 items & informed the man who came to fix the disposal & the lights that the wood under the sink was rotten & moldy from the disposal having a long term leak. He took care of the lights (circuit breaker issue), took the chair with him & fixed the clog in the disposal. So far so good.
A month later & I still hadn't received my $300 security deposit. I call the owner & he informs me that the chair is being looked at by the insurance adjuster & that he's holding my deposit. I told him that we didn't break the chair -- that the stitching was loose & I was merely letting them know as a courtesy, same as I'd like renters to let me know of anything that needs attention in my own rental. He then proceeds to challenge me: the chair was fine the day before when it was dusted. He hadn't seen it broken the last time he was there, etc.
When I explained that we never even had the opportunity to use the chair, he got a bit heated & insisted that all was well prior to our arrival. (Luckily he didn't accuse us of causing the rotten, mildewed floor under the sink, too, since no one had apparently ever noticed that, either!) He eventually agreed to send my deposit back, but not after basically calling me a liar & getting quite nasty.
We've rented houses for years both in the US & in Europe. I've generally been pleased & often we end up returning to places year after year. One couple we were with was going to rent this home until I told them about the homeowner's behavior, when they decided to steer clear. The whole incident left a very bad taste in my mouth & ruined what otherwise would have been a very nice weekend.
PARK CITY, UTAH -- We were excited to stay at this rental because the reviews on VRBO all sounded so wonderful. Didn't know at the time that VRBO owners have control over posting their reviews, so potential renters will never see the negative reviews. Our experience turned negative during our stay, and has soured our memories of the trip to the point that we will probably not ever rent another VRBO again.
Two things happened. First, this rental advertises "a secure GARAGE PARKING, which is heated in the winter time, with RESERVED PARKING space (Floor/level 1)". WOW, this is great in theory. The problem we had is that on our 2nd night there, someone else parked in the reserved parking space for our rental. After discussing the situation with the on-site office manager, we were told we could not have a pass to park out in one of the many spaces out front (the easiest solution for all), nor could we park anywhere else BUT our supposedly reserved spot.
She was not very helpful, probably since we were renting from a private condo owner, and the office manager was there to represent condo owners who used HER services to rent their condos vs. VRBO. A towing policy was posted on signs in the parking garage for those who violated, so we had to call a tow truck to remove the offending vehicle, and my husband wasted 2 hours of precious vacation time dealing with the tow truck process so that we could just park our car for the night. The first tow truck was too big to fit through the garage door opening, and we had to wait for a second truck to show up.
Then we had to worry about having damage done to our rental vehicle, keying or whatever, due to an upset owner of the towed vehicle. It cost this guy $250 to get his car back. So lesson here is (1) definitely don't park in anyone else's reserved spot, and (2) heaven forbid that someone else park in your reserved spot as YOU will get stuck wasting your vacation time to arrange for towing just so you can park your car. I'm not personally blaming the condo owners for this incident at all, but just noting it is a "benefit" of this rental that can quickly turn into an undesirable situation for you.
The second thing that happened concerned the king-size master bed. My husband (6' tall, 190 lbs. - normal weight!) went to lie down, by himself, for a short nap on the afternoon of our last full day. After a few seconds, the side board of the bed collapsed. It was made of some type of softwood, with large grain variations and knotholes galore. The sudden drop actually jarred my husband's back. We called the local property manager immediately and waited 1 1/2 hours for him to show up. He looked at it and we all noted that the weak point seemed to have been a rather large knothole right smack in the middle of this sideboard.
We sent the condo owners a cell phone picture of the damaged board. The condo owner husband quickly texted back that he was sorry for the inconvenience, and that it appeared to him as well that the knothole was a weak point AND stated to us that he was a safety inspector for his career. THEN, the real problem started - the tune changed when the condo owner wife got the news. She called me about 2 hours later, and started making accusations that my husband or I must have stood on the side rail to cause it to fail.
I told her we certainly did not. All we did was sleep in the bed during our stay, nothing else, if you get my drift (and I'm 5'6", 128 lbs. - normal weight, just like my husband). She was wanting us to pay for the damages, claiming we had CAUSED the problem. If we had caused any damages, we certainly would have offered to pay up, in a heartbeat - we are honorable, church-going people. But we had done no harm.
If a 190 lb. person lying on a bed results in the bed collapsing on one side, then one has to question the integrity of the bed. When inspecting the bed after the collapse, while the property manager was still there with us, it was noted that the bed had no vertical supports underneath the mattress and that the bed side rail had an inferior quality wood that was used to support the horizontal slats underneath (at the point where they connected to the side rail).
Most of the weight to support this bed was resting on these side rails. Paired with all the knotholes in the wood, it was clearly an accident waiting to happen. I'll save you the long story of the next few days concerning all the phone calls and e-mails from the condo owner wife seeking payment from us. Her husband seemed to be understanding that an accident had occurred, through no fault of ours, but she wanted to place blame and was unreasonable, in our opinion, to talk to.
Bottom line, she deducted the money from our $400 security deposit to repair this obviously faulty bed. We came away from this experience grateful that something more expensive had not failed during our stay - a heater, a refrigerator.... as we surely would have been blamed if it had quit functioning properly during our stay.
So do yourself a favor. Don't assume, like we did, that just because a VRBO has favorable reviews that you will have an enjoyable experience with that rental. Truth be told, if the condo owner wife had been more sympathetic and understanding, we probably would have offered to pay for some or all of the damage of this unstable bed on our own initiative, just out of human kindness.
But she insisted from the start on falsely accusing us of directly CAUSING the damage (stepping on the side rail - which we did not do), and that does not make for a very conducive environment for reaching a settlement. No one likes to be falsely accused. I would not rent this VRBO again, or any other unit, from these owners.
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- The site is OK for renters, but they aren't the customers of Home Away/VRBO because renters deal primarily with property owners. The property owners are the customers of HA/VRBO & they seem to agree that they are HORRIBLE!! Because they are the largest, they seem to think that they have a monopoly, so they can care less about their customers/property owners.
I have been with using Home Away & VRBO for over 7 years. I have 3 properties listed with each, i.e. 6 listing at the highest levels offered. Last year I paid them over $7,000, but I won't b renewing my subscriptions because I am getting no bookings. That's because my listing priority is so low. For example, on Home Away using all applicable filters, my 2 BR cabins are # 54 & 55 out of 150. Without filters, & on VRBO it's even lower. The problem is that they keep changing priority criteria so they can get more $ & some recent priority requirements are things I don't control.
When I 1st started years ago, the only priority was length of time someone has been with them. Then they added priority based on the # of listings we had. Then they added subscription levels & then more subscription levels. Then it was whether or not we paid more $ for a "featured listing." Even though the cost kept increasing, I could understand that, i.e. priority based on longevity, # of listings, & amount paid. However, they then added priority based on reviews. I have no control over whether or not someone writes a review, what they consider a "good" review, or when someone is using a review as coercion.
I've had guests write a good review but give a 3-star rating. I asked them about it & they said they thought 3 stars was a "good" rating. I've also had people stay in a cabin for a week or so with no complaints, but a month later contact me & complain, making it clear that they were going to write a bad review unless I did something to compensate for their "bad experience," i.e. unless I gave them a refund, they would write a bad review.
Last year, Home Away said priority was based on whether or not we OFFERED online booking, so I added online booking. The problem is that if a guest uses online booking, funds go directly into my account, but I don't know who the funds are from nor which cabin it's for (as I said, I have 3 cabins listed on Home Away & VRBO). Therefore, I don't use online booking.
This year, Home Away has changed again & has made priority based on whether on not we USE online booking. As I said, last year I paid Home Away/VRBO over $7,000, but I'm not getting any bookings. All my bookings are coming from Vacation Home Rentals (not Vacation Rentals) or Flip Key & paying less than 1/2 what I paid Home Away/VRBO. Both of those are on Trip Advisor. In other words, I paid over $7,000 to Home Away/VRBO & I have gotten nothing for it, so that money was just wasted.
KIHEI MAUI, HAWAII -- We rented this unit a year ago for a month. On the first day found out it was infested with bed bugs. Needless to say we left his condo and rented another. After much discussion the owner refused to reimburse - actually had the audacity to accuse us of bringing the bed bugs into his unit which the mattress was blackened from bed bug feces. We were contacted after from another woman who had dealt with the same thing in September. Then another man in April of 2012 also had rented this condo with almost the story as us and the same results.
I actually contacted the latter and we both had written in our complaints to VRBO. Neither one got posted but miraculously I see two postings now on his site and amazingly both go on about what a great guy he is and how lovely his condo is. The pictures on his site have the same dilapidated lamps and the mattress covers are the same ones that had the bed bugs all over them. Also somehow when you Google VRBO and his condo number it has a 5 star rating?? This is sad that he can get away with these comments and advertising it as a 5 star rating. Don t know how that can even be possible? So don't go by the reviews as they don't reflect the truth. Read Tripadvisor...
Be careful of renting through VRBO. They are for the Homeowners and not the Home renter. They will not post a negative review. I stayed in a house with a pool in Rancho Mirage this spring. It wasn't cheap, but I was prepared to spend the money. It also including a $1000.00 damage deposit...
One week after our stay I sent the homeowner a text message asking for the return of my deposit. Text came back saying no problem - they would be seeing their Accountant that week and a cheque would be put into the mail. Right... It's June and no replies to my text messages, emails, or phone messages. I know that my text messages are being read as I have an iPhone, and so do they. With iPhone to iPhone texts, you can see that.
So I let them know that I would post an unfavorable review as, they have not returned my damage deposit. And I do not want that to happen to anyone else... I also feel really stupid that I paid them what they were asking for - it was worth maybe a third of what I paid them. So I wanted to post a review with VRBO, and 3 times it has been rejected. So here I am on this site... Beware of property 450223.
A friend of mine who owns a condo in Myrtle Beach and has a website on VRBO.com asked me to take over running his rental property this summer because he's getting older and just doesn't want to do it. He had a guy last year running it who totally ripped him off, so I have been trying to edit the property page on the website. I log into his account, and cannot edit the page. First it tells me there are technical problems and to try back later. Now it's telling me there are no properties to edit. Then when I try to click on edit from the page itself, I get an error telling me page can't be found... Fantastic.
So I log onto the forum page for the website, and everyone on the site tells me they are having no troubles with the site. So I try to contact them and the ONLY way to contact them is either emailing them, or sending message them with YOUR phone number and they will call YOU? What the heck kind of BS is that? Of course they have a phone number on their site for "sales" calls in case you want to give them your hard earned money for crappy customer service! From what my friend tells me, he paid a LOT of money to advertise on this site too and this is the kind of BS you have to deal with?
I sent them an email and they tell me it can take up to 3 days for them to respond??? So meanwhile I am unable to get any inquiries or update for any potential renters while I wait for them to get to the email that apparently takes longer to get a response from than sending a letter with a stamp on it. So I try the phone number thing, thinking maybe I'll get a quicker response... I enter my phone number and hit submit and all I get is a blank screen. So I have no clue if they even got the message or not. Unbelievable. What a crock! If I had known about this site before he signed up, I never would have let him sign up for this crap!
I have used VRBO a few times now, and about to again but my intuition is telling me not to. I shouldn't ignore the facts. My first VRBO rental was disgusting. The owner posted pictures of a home that had clearly been taken years earlier when the house actually was livable. Everything in the home was broken and it looked like a foreclosure property. The pool didn't work, the grass was overgrown, every cabinet and door knob was missing, there were holes in the walls and stains in the carpet. They took aerial photos of the properties which were just wide enough to NOT show the plethora of garbage and broken down fences which surrounded the property.
My second rental in Tucson was better - the owner was very attentive, yet it was clear that the home had not been cleaned sufficiently before we arrived. It was a nice home but had only received a light "wipe down" and a quick vacuum before we arrived. There's something about someone else's sticky glass stains that gross me out... The last rental was a similar process I have been noticing on VRBO. Many people will post very beautiful properties with attractive rates, show availability, yet when you email them, they are NEVER available and direct you to their private websites for their other properties, cutting VRBO and your protection out of the equation.
These are horrible, unethical tactics, but clearly there is no supervision or consumer protection to prevent this from happening. Finally - here's what has happened to me FOUR times now... an owner agrees to the dates and rates via email and I wait patiently for the contract, which never comes, because they use my confirmation as a way to negotiate the rate up to another renter who is willing to pay more, never giving me a chance to rebid because VRBO prohibits bidding wars. So people do it in private and never tell you, thus screwing the renter yet again.
What's sad is that most renters leave the properties in better condition than when they arrived and are held hostage by not knowing a particular location or if the crime in the area is rampant - you can do all the internet searching you want but unless you've physically been to a specific location, you are at the mercy of the property owner, who I have found, is typically a huge liar.
A friend and I booked this property via vrbo.com for two nights (including New Year's Eve) and immediately wired payment, including a $25 cleaning fee. Joe **, the owner, assured us that the condo would be ready for our 2 pm arrival. I arrived early (approximately 11 am), and the condo was an absolute horror show; it had not been cleaned from the previous guests.
The sink was piled high with dirty dishes, trash was everywhere (including beer bottles both in and around the property), dirty towels were on the floor, and the entire condo reeked of smoke. The shower was filled with sand -- so much sand, in fact, that the water could not drain properly. All three beds had been slept in and were unmade. To top it all off, there were broken eggs littering the entrance.
I immediately contacted Joe via email; I gave him the benefit of the doubt since I was three hours early. To his credit, he wrote back immediately. He told me that I needed to find the cleaning lady and get her working on it. Of course, I did not know the cleaning lady and it wasn't until 2:30 pm when she finally showed up on her bicycle. She told me that the condo would be ready by 3:30, so we waited. And waited. And waited some more. We sat outside the condo from 11 am until 5:30 pm, when the cleaning job was finally completed, sort of. The towels that she gave us were damp, and the bedding consisted of only a fitted sheet and a flat sheet (no mattress pad or bedspread).
By 5:30 pm, we had lost both an entire day in Jaco as well as qualitative planning time, since we had hoped to book an excursion to Tortuga Island for the following day. I emailed Joe to give him an update and let him know that we were finally able to get into the condo at 5:30 pm. He wrote back that he, too, was on vacation and had been disappointed because his rental didn't have internet and had not been cleaned either. I regret that he had a similar experience, but it does not lessen the fact that he manages the Jaco property and should have been responsible for ensuring that it was ready for our arrival.
I tried to resolve this amicably with Joe via email, and he offered me a free night in Jaco. I explained that I do not plan on returning to Jaco, in part because of my rental experience at rentjaco.com, and requested monetary compensation to cover lost time. Joe has not responded to my request. I would not recommend this property to anyone. There are much nicer, cleaner properties throughout Jaco; do not waste your time and money at this rental. Unfortunately, vrbo.com allows owners to "opt out" of reviews. So, any potentially negative reviews will not be seen by prospective renters. Shame on VRBO!
PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- In Jan 10, I entered into a rental agreement with the owner (a real estate agent) of a house in Phoenix, AZ, listed under VRBO #50260. The house was normally rented by the month, but with no Jan occupancy of the property she willingly agreed to a “last minute” rental for a one week period commencing 18 Jan 10.
On 18 Jan, a major winter storm shut down our transportation hub and we were unable to get to Phoenix without incurring significant alternate transportation costs.I called the owner that morning to discuss options. She agreed to a postponement for a week to be determined later in 2010. She retained our cleaning & refurbishing and rent monies for the later week. So far, so good.
In May, I called to arrange for a week in Nov 10 that was convenient for her. Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. She reopened negotiations on what I thought was a done deal. After many follow-up calls and e-mails, she indicated we could only rent for a minimum half month even though she had no bookings for Nov. She also said we had to pay an additional $90 for cleaning & refurb, on top of the $90 already paid. We settled on a 12-day agreement. When the contract arrived, it called for 11 days for the price of the 12 and demanded yet another $90 for cleaning & refurb (for a total cleaning bill of $270). So much for the week postponement.
I questioned the additional charges. She realized I was unwilling to enter into an inflated arrangement. She decided to return the rent payment. She said she would be retaining the $90 because it was spent on cleaning and refurbishing in advance of our planned arrival in Jan. Interestingly, the owner was the last to inhabit the house in early Jan.
Three weeks later she decided to renege on her decision to return our rent. The owner realizes I am prepared not to let this rest. In the interim, I have offered her the opportunity to make things right, which I will report here. Further action is being considered. Until that time, do not trust her to keep her word; in fact, be very careful about entering into a rental arrangement with her unless you are prepared to forfeit some of your funds.