VRBO Owner Withholding Damage Deposit, NO Recourse!
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 vane 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 [snip]:
Hello David, Because beyond normal cleaning was required to eliminate the order and mold due to the piled wet towels, I'm holding $100.00 of your damage deposit to cover professional carpet cleaning. Sherrie
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 then 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 warn, 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 2014Submitted April 24, 2014Source 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.