If you rent your home long enough, as we have, it may happen to you. One of your tenants calls to say they need to cancel their booking. In the majority of cases, this tenant is cancelling because of unfortunate circumstances, such as an illness in the family. What do you do?
Take steps to rebook the week
The first step is to open up the week on your availability calendar. Then, if you reduce the price, be sure to promote the reduction on all your marketing efforts! On WeNeedaVacation.com, you can post a free Owner Special with something like “Cancellation for August 12-19 at reduced price of $XXXXX.” The Special appears in bright pink on your listing and is very eye-catching to vacationers scrolling through prospective rentals.
The other step is to call even more attention to your newly available week with a fee-based feature such as the Last-Minute Availability Alert offered on our WeNeedaVacation.com site. Designed to work most effectively in conjunction with the Owner Special, these Alerts have been proven to be very successful in bringing homeowners last-minute bookings.
Check your lease
Be sure to consult the clause in your lease that pertains to cancellations. Most leases say that monies received will be refunded (usually less a 5% fee) only if the home is re-rented and that the owner will make every effort to find a tenant. The lease should also stipulate that, if you need to reduce the rent, you will deduct the reduction amount from the funds returned to the tenant who cancelled.
Of course, your ability to rebook the week will depend in part on the timing of the cancellation. If the vacationer cancels months before the rental week, you should be able to easily fill the newly available week. But if the cancellation comes very close to the rental week, which it often does, rebooking is more difficult.
Should you refund?
It’s not easy to refuse to refund a rental deposit to a family obviously experiencing an unexpected and unfortunate event such as an illness, and you must respond as your own conscience dictates. Keep in mind the possibility that these folks might return in the future if you handle the situation in a compassionate way. You could also offer to credit their deposit towards a future stay with you.
Have you had a tenant cancel at the last minute due to a personal emergency? How did you handle it?
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