FAQ Friday: Our staycation cottage was nothing like we thought it would be – are we entitled to a refund?

August 27, 2021

Each month, we share the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) from the hundreds of consumers who contact us. For this FAQ Friday, we take a look at your rights when it comes to rented accommodation.  

Q: I’ve recently returned from a family staycation. We rented what we thought was a quaint little cottage, which we found online. When we arrived, we were very disappointed, as the cottage looked nothing like the pictures advertised on the website. The sheets had not been changed from the previous guests and there were dirty dishes left in the dishwasher. Although the owner did arrange for cleaning to be done after we contacted them, we feel we were misled by their online ad. The owner had insisted we pay upfront for our 10 night stay. Given that the cottage was nothing like we were expecting, are we entitled to our money back?

You have rights:

When it comes to services, such as rented accommodation, it’s important to know that you have certain rights and entitlements under the Sale of Goods & Supply of Services Act (1980), including the right to a service being provided with proper care and diligence. A service must also be how it was described, for example; in an on online advertisement, or on a business’s website. Based on the details provided, it seems the accommodation fell short of your expectations, however, you mentioned that the owner did take action to address some of the issues, shortly after you arrived. 

Making a formal complaint:

Your next step should be to contact the business owner as soon as possible to make a formal complaint about your stay. You should put all of the details of your complaint in writing. If you’re unsure of where to begin, check out our template complaint letters, to help get you started. Remember to include any relevant sections about the accommodation’s description which you feel did not match your experience, or if you did not receive everything you paid for as part of your original booking. If you have photos or videos of the accommodation to support any of the issues outlined during your stay, you should also include them as part of your official complaint. 

Negotiate a redress option that suits you:

It’s important to be aware that consumer law does not give an automatic entitlement to a refund in these circumstances. Instead, it is up to you to negotiate with the business owner to find a suitable solution that you are happy with. Therefore, your complaint letter or email should outline how you would like the issue to be resolved. Give the owner the opportunity to put things right and be sure to keep a record of any responses you receive from them. 

Consider further action:

If the owner refuses to engage with you and you feel you are out of pocket as a result of your stay, you may be able to pursue this matter further through the Small Claims procedure, which handles claims of €2,000 or less. If your claim is for more than €2,000, you may want to consider getting independent legal advice from a solicitor.  

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