Holiday guests cause damage. What to do? Who pays?
Accidents happen. Fact. And as a holiday cottage owner you need to expect some damages at one point or another. But what do you do about it? And who pays for it?
Firstly, assess the severity of the damage. A broken glass, chipped crockery or scuffs on the paintwork should be classed as wear and tear and absorbed into the general maintenance of the cottage.
But what if it’s worse?
Red wine on the carpet, a burnt kitchen worktop or a broken TV. These things happen to all of us, at home as well as when we’re on holiday, and most guests will be honest and respectful of your holiday cottage and let you know that an accident has occurred and most will offer to replace, repair or make good whatever it is that is damaged. But in the odd incidences where this doesn’t happen and guests have caused damages and not been upfront about it or not offered to pay for repairs, it is important to stay clear-headed and methodical.
What to do?
1. Our advice is first and foremost to think about this even before it happens and make sure that your insurance covers holiday let.
2. But once the damage is done, you start by getting photographic evidence of the damage
3. Establish the facts if you can from the guests and try to avoid conflict – avoid anger and personal comments, even if the guest is angry and agitated, it will not help the situation in any way.
4. Get a financial figure for the repair. It’s good to involve the guest here, explain that you will get a quote for the damage and that you will send them a copy.
5. Should the guests contest the outcome, make it clear that you wish to pursue it further. Give them the chance to contribute, judge the right and wrong if possible, asking them for their input.
The final step
Following these steps will, in most cases, resolve the situation. But if it doesn’t, the final step would be the small claims court. An official notification from a small claims court combined with good, fair evidence and a display of acting in a reasonably throughout, often results in a payment in your favour. But do note that, reassuringly, in the vast majority of cases, it never comes to this.