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£2000 Booking Lost


Chief
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Hi.

Something from a renters poiint of view here. I recently dropped plans to rent accommodation for my families summer holiday (2007) from one particular owner because of a £700 security deposit they wanted, which i believed was a little excessive.

I appreciate the need in some circumstance to have/hold a security deposit, but the issue here was several fold. Discussions with the owner highlighted that the security deposit was to be paid upfront with the rental deposit, and would be lost in event of a cancellation (why?), the deposit covered theft/breakages/damage/execessive cleaning etc (ok), but there was no inventory attached to the rental, so no means of determining what was or was not in the property on arrival, other than writing one on the spot upon arrival (her suggestion!!!), there was nothing to be signed stating the condition of goods etc in the property, she could not state with any clarity what 'excessive cleaning' was, and there appeared to be nothing to stop her simply taking the £700, applying a bucketful of fictitious charges for alledged damages, dirt, etc etc and keeping the money.

Now believe me, i understand the need to be profitable, villas/gites/chambre d'hotes etc are not big big earners and margins are small, but the total package has to be reasonable and explainable.

Effectively a security deposit is saying (in the nicest possible way) that we cannot trust some people to be honest, own up to damages and pay for them before they leave, so we charge a returnable deposit, fair enough. But equally remember, as property owners, you are complete strangers to most people who rent from you, and £700 is a lot of money to entrust to a complete stranger.

I wondered what the view was from the owners side,. which is why i wrote this. Taking as understood the need for a security deposit, what is considered reasonable, what is excessive cleaning, do you have inventories that are checked and agreed with tenants, or should i be less funny about my hard earned money and hand it over to any old tom, dick and zinedine.

dave

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We now live in France.  However we did let our property for some five years before me moved and on balance we had perhaps just perhaps two not so good clients.  One just broke a bistro type zinc table and the other just dumped all sorts of things all over the place.  And I mean all sorts of things.

From memory our breakage deposit was about £250 and we had a detailed inventory and detailed it was.  With the table breakage we had no problems and deducted the cost from the deposit.  The other well that is another story.

Are you saying the breakage deposit is £700 against say a rental of £1000 per week?

Our rental was in the high season some £550 per week or thereabouts and thus the deposit was for either a week or a two weeks rental.  What sort of property were you contemplating rental what was the rental cost at what level was the furnishings that sort of thing.

Seems high to me.

As in everything balance and normally (and here I may be wrong) but is the breakage paid with the initial deposit or with the balance say six weeks before the holiday commences.

Final point (and here a lawyer speaking) was the owner France or UK based?

 

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[quote user="Llwyncelyn"]

We now live in France.  However we did let our property for some five years before me moved and on balance we had perhaps just perhaps two not so good clients.  One just broke a bistro type zinc table and the other just dumped all sorts of things all over the place.  And I mean all sorts of things.

From memory our breakage deposit was about £250 and we had a detailed inventory and detailed it was.  With the table breakage we had no problems and deducted the cost from the deposit.  The other well that is another story.

Are you saying the breakage deposit is £700 against say a rental of £1000 per week?

Our rental was in the high season some £550 per week or thereabouts and thus the deposit was for either a week or a two weeks rental.  What sort of property were you contemplating rental what was the rental cost at what level was the furnishings that sort of thing.

Seems high to me.

As in everything balance and normally (and here I may be wrong) but is the breakage paid with the initial deposit or with the balance say six weeks before the holiday commences.

Final point (and here a lawyer speaking) was the owner France or UK based?

 

[/quote]

The property was a high end villa in the languedoc, she wanted the security deposit at the same time as the rental deposit (both of which were lost if we cancelled for any rerason, which seemed odd in respect of the security deposit at least). The rental worked out at just over £1000 a week, a lot, but this was a high end villa. I think part of the problem also was just the generally aloof, we don't care attitude she displayed. Couldn't help thinking that the whole thing would turn or sour with someone like that as landlord. She was english, complete with pretentious, i am something special, you owe me a living attitude so prevalent today it seems. Not to worry though, there's two grand of my money she won't be seeing.
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As an aside, if you own a good quality villa/hotel/chambre d'hotes, avec une piscine, in languedoc, near (10km) du la plage, restaurants, vineyards, etc (all the things that make france special) and are happy accepting two adults (well behaved) and an impeccably well behaved child (14yrs by time we travel) please send details or website address to [email protected] that's DLJ but in lowercase
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In a million years of renting, it is pretty rare to read of such a

security deposit and except for some VERY nice places in Provence I

knew of (and £1000 per week rent on those was not even close) hard to

think how it can be as such. Unless it was the ladies own place with

antiques etc and she was worried about them but to let it out like

that, would be madness anyway

Sure, you shouldn't have proceeded but that kind of ratio of rent 

and security deposit, is rarer than the infamous rocking horse pooh !

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Does sound a bit bloody odd. Perhaps she has cash flow issues and

fancied getting more upfront, or perhaps she was planning to do a

runner.

Either way, its not normal. We take a flat £250 or €400, due two weeks

before. Usually we don't cash the cheque (though sometimes when we

actually meet the guests we pop it into an envelope addressed to

Lloyds...first impressions can be surprisingly accurate). With card

bookings we just keep the signed mandate for €400. Once guests have

been twice, we drop the security deposit altogether.

I'd love to be able to help you with a 2007 booking, Chief, but:

A) We are not in the South;

B) We only accept bookings from parties that include at least one child under the age of ten. Call it a niche market...

I think you were very wise to forego this one: something is a tad fishy.

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Maybe she has justifiable reasons for taking such a large deposit, but whatever the size of the deposit I think it is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS that she should request it to be paid so far in advance!!! Think of the interest she is making from holding onto people's money like that!!!

We charge £200 and we ask people to make sure we receive the cheque 1 week before the start of the rental. We do bank the cheque, because otherwise there would be nothing to stop people from cancelling the cheque should there be any dispute, but we also refund the deposit within a couple of days of their departure, so we only hold their money for the minimum period.

I'm sorry you have had such a bad experience - I promise you that not all holiday home owners are so money-grabbing. I too am English, but I certainly do not have a "pretentious, i am something special, you owe me a living attitude". I'm sorry though, we are not in the Languedoc nor do we have a pool, but if you fancy a nice holiday in beautiful Normandy then I would be happy to welcome you! :)

 

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Look at the 4 epies gites on www.gites-de-france.fr

We pay deposit for rental, then 8 weeks before the holiday the balance is due. The security deposit (usually around 300 euros for gite de characteur) - cash or cheque - is paid on arrival when the owner shows us around.

I'm really pleased that you walked away from that one!
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Security  / Damage deposits are interesting. One can leave a credit card open and take away £10000 of very moveable assets (hire car), one can rent a house with £30,000 of breakable contents and only pay £250 deposit.

The deposit is not covering the value, nor the hassle of getting replacements. Some combination of both ?

However I agree with comments. £700 seems above the norm (were you particularly risky tenants e.g. bringing animals) . I do double the deposit for animals.

BUT the payment should be just before you give access. In my case I only give out the address and access details after the 8 week final payment and security deposit is paid. Apparently French renters like to give a cheque when picking up the keys - a method  I decline even though French cheques are said to be less bouncy than Brit ones.

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What do other gite owners consider reasonable as a security deposit ? 

I recently looked at gites in competion with ours, (i.e. in our area with a pool and the same number of people) and found the security deposit ranged from 200 to 1000 euros.  The rental prices also varied between 500 to 1600 per week in very high season.

For the past three years we have asked for 150 euros as damage deposit, by cheque which we hold and send back after we have inspected the property.

This year we have decided to increase it but are not sure to how much.  700 euros seems excessive to me.

Jenny

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Our security deposit is a maximum of £200 for a 14 night stay  - we charge less for shorter stays. Over the past 3 years we've found that it's more than enough, especially as we've only had to make deductions to cover breakages twice, and both were fairly minor.

We ask for the deposit 8 weeks before the start of the rental, at the same time as the balance.  Being UK based, this means we can then send out the keys and directions knowing all payments have been made, and we return the deposit once the key has been returned after the stay.  This gives us the few days needed for the cleaner to go in and inspect, and if there are following guests they will hopefully have notified us about any damage they found on arrival.

We've only ever had one comment about the deposit, and this was from guests who thought we shouldn't ask for anything at all!

 

Hope this helps

Marie

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Sometimes you come across a very clear warning sign of trouble ahead, but only see it in retrospect. You have done well to get out of this one. Keeping a security deposit for a rental that cancels is devoid of logic.

In any case, as an aside, I am told by a rental agent here that it is illegal to bank a security deposit in France unless there is a need to do so in order to pay for damage/breakages. So banking a deposit for a non-existent rental is even more illegal.

For the amount, it isn't necessarily excessive, it just depends what is in the house and what value the owners place on it. But once you hit 1000 euros security deposit it does put renters off.

Paolo

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Paolo - Yes, I have read the same thing.  I think it was on the Service Public website.

And, yes, for me when the secuirty deposit reaches more than 500 (outside Paris), I move on to another rental.  It is a dodgy area and I don't want to risk not seeing my 500 or plus back in my hands.  Am happy to pay for any damage we might do, but often the "item" was broken upon arrival and that can get touchy.

 

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[quote user="Paolo"]

In any case, as an aside, I am told by a rental agent here that it is illegal to bank a security deposit in France unless there is a need to do so in order to pay for damage/breakages. So banking a deposit for a non-existent rental is even more illegal.

[/quote]

Paolo, do you know that law apply to all French rentals regardless of what currency the security deposit is paid and where it would be paid into? I trust French cheques not to bounce, but with UK guests I have been paying the £200  in to my UK account before the arrival of guests as otherwise it could easily be cancelled before I have a chance to pay it in if there is a requirement to take any of the deposit. I know some people ask for the security deposit up front in euros which is then refunded (or not) at departure, but I thought that may put people off renting, especially UK guests.

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[quote user="SusanAH"]Paolo, do you know that law apply to all French rentals regardless of what currency the security deposit is paid and where it would be paid into?[/quote]

No I don't know, but if you are taking payments in the UK I wouldn't worry about it as it is the norm there to bank a security deposit. A UK personal cheque isn't really worth anything if it is not banked.

Paolo

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Hi Guys.

Would be unfair to publish details (and please don't PM me for them).  She has lost the business, and i don't want to get into any kind of flame war, or legal wrangle with her or anyone else over something like this.  The warning is clear for those interested, check the terms and conditions and ask questions if you need to.  If you come across her website, you will know it easily enough when you see the section dealing with the £700 NON-REFUNDABLE [8-)] in event of cancellation security deposit.

cheers

Dave

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One thing I have learnt about deposits is to ask the person, demanding the deposit, as to how it will be refunded.

Most times you don't even think of this as you are so interested in just paying it to secure your item. However it is very important to know the method and medium of a refund. For example if you pay by credit card, will it be refunded by credit card, cheque etc...

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I am told by a rental agent here that it is illegal to bank a security deposit in France unless there is a need to do so in order to pay for damage/breakages.

Paolo, do you have a primary source for this? Or are we comparing a deposit taken by an agent (you are quoting advice from an agent) with one taken by the owner? As far as I'm aware, for a booking made without an intermediary (e.g. an agent), you do have the right to bank the deposit.

Jo

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