Last Updated on June 9, 2015 by Mark Lavington
Most holiday homeowners who look after their own bookings will have taken hundreds of reservations from happy guests over the years, but some may not be aware of the legal contract they are forming each and every time they accept a booking, and the legalities they should have in place.
Your Holiday Home Booking Contract
Once you have accepted a booking from a guest, you will normally have to honour that booking. This is because a legally enforceable contract between you and your guest has been formed, with the dates, accommodation and price becoming the terms of your agreement.
This contractual agreement isn’t limited to email or written correspondence; it can also apply to telephone conversations you had with a booking guest.
What should you have in place?
As you are entering a contract with your guest it is recommended that you have certain terms and conditions that lay out what would happen in the event of a cancellation, no-show or a curtailment. You will also want to confirm the guests responsibility with respect to property damage and list costs incurred should a deep clean be required if for example they bring a pet to the holiday home.
In order for these conditions to be enforceable you must make them clear to the guest when they book. For this reason it’s vital that you think of ways in which you can introduce your booking terms and conditions into your booking process, to ensure they aren’t missed.
What can’t you do?
Whilst your terms and conditions will be there to support you in the event a guest doesn’t arrive for their booking, or a cancellation were to be made at the last minute, they are not able to be used to excuse you from your legal responsibilities.
For example, if you had a term that indicated you were not responsible for any physical harm incurred by the guest during their stay in your property this would not negate you of the responsibility to provide your guest with a safe environment.
You should try to keep a clear and accurate record of the arrangements you have made for each booking. This should also include any special arrangements you have made with the guest, for example preparations for an anniversary, or special accessibility requirements and allergies.
Remember, phone bookings also create a booking contract with your guest so ensure you have a list of the things you need to go through with them while they are making their booking, including your cancelation policy, how you handle deposits and your pricing.
Visit England recommend that you follow up any booking made over the phone, where practical, with an email or letter to confirm all of your terms and conditions with the guest.
The benefits of a booking agent
If you have a letting agent managing your holiday home property you’ll not only benefit from the larger shop window and exposure their marketing efforts can give you, you’ll also have the advantage of using their terms and conditions. Most agents will handle this process for you and have the terms and conditions to safeguard your interests and ensure you don’t lose out.
Gaining terms and conditions
Booking terms and conditions are a complicated area of law. For this reason, if you are looking to create terms and conditions we recommend that you consult with your solicitor.
Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.