To want my holiday deposit back?

(40 Posts)
sillystring Fri 18-Jul-14 15:47:23

We were on holiday last week in a house in North West Scotland. It wasn't cheap...£1000 for the week and the agency took a £150 security deposit they said would be returned within 5 days if everything in the house was ok.

The house was nice enough but it was a health and safety disaster zone. All the floors were highly polished with rugs dotted about randomly. There was an open staircase to the upper level with slatted steps and NO banisters. There was an open fire in the middle of the room (which we never used as the weather was warm) and we were told by the caretaker if we used the fire NOT to use the fire guard as it caused issues with the flume. A steep, moss covered path down the front gate also caused slipping hazards.

The upstairs of the house was a converted attic. The windows were locked shut with the keys in the lock but they were stuck fast so we left them despite stifling heat, it did concern me that there was no fire escape on the upper level though.

Anyway, the reason I'm giving this background information is that during the holiday my DH went to wake my DS up in the attic room, he was sleeping in a pine slatted single bed. There was a rug (on highly polished floor) next to the bed, my DH skidded on it and landed heavily on the side of the bed which cracked (it was at a knot in the pine). My DH was badly bruised on his upper thigh and hip and a bit shaken by it all.

We immediately phoned the lady who did the caretaking of the property and she came round the next day to look at the bed. She was very nice, told us we had "nothing to worry about" and was very concerned about my DH's bruising.

So, we left on Saturday morning after having cleaned the place thoroughly and came home.

Yesterday I get a phone call from the agency telling me the owner is withholding our £150 deposit for the replacement of the broken bed and he also claims we bent a key in the window lock (this did NOT happen on our time there) and do we "agree to this". I told them we categorically did NOT agree to it and subsequently e mailed them photos of DH's huge bruise and the rugs on the floor which caused him to slip.

The whole house was a health and safety nightmare which I have catalogued to the agency and I'm currently waiting to hear what happens next.

Even if I did accept liability (which I don't) he's having a giraffe if he thinks a cheap pine bed and a bent key add up to anything approaching £150!!

Anyone else got experience of this?

GoringBit Fri 18-Jul-14 15:54:32

No experience, OP, but I'd say that they are taking the piss, and that you should dig your heels right in.

Good luck. (And updates, please.)

bobbywash Fri 18-Jul-14 15:54:43

Get DH to go to the Doctor about his bruises, go to a no win no fee solicitor and get them to write a letter before action asking for their insurance details to make a claim.

Then write a second letter saying you won't bother if they return the deposit in full. Also I know in England, you can't let a house without bannisters, not sure it's the same in scotland, but it may be.

ChelsyHandy Fri 18-Jul-14 15:55:18

Are you joking? You broke a bed in a holiday cottage, have only been charged £150 for it and are arguing it? And presumably the cost will not only include the bed replacement, but the transporting of it and assembling it. Add the lock and key onto that and you would be well over £150.

And its not a "health and safety hazard". The Health and Safety At Work Act 1968 only applies to workplaces, not holiday homes, and is criminal law enforced by the Health and Safety Executive. You mean you think you have a chance of claiming there has been a breach of a duty of care owed to you, but since you inspected the house (very thoroughly it seems...) and still decided to take the "risk" of staying there, you seem to have adopted it at your own risk.

To be perfectly honest, what you are describing sounds like a normal house, with the normal attributes of a normal home. Most holiday homes have polished wooden or tiled floors with rugs, don't they? Because other floor surfaces would stain.

sillystring Fri 18-Jul-14 15:59:14

Thanks, the no banisters thing really got me but as it's in Scotland, don't know if it's legal or not.

When I told the lady at the agency all the things that were safety concerns about the house she seemed a bit shock. I could hear it in her voice. I'm hoping that once they've really assessed all the issues in the house, they might not want to even let it out for him any longer.

At the moment they are holding the £150 "without prejudice" and are speaking with the owner regarding my stance and comments.

I rang Mastercard Retail Disputes Department and they agreed to take it up for me if the decision is taken to NOT return my money. Also in Scotland it's only £17 to raise a small claims court form so I can do that as well I suppose.

Thanks for responses peeps.

Sirzy Fri 18-Jul-14 16:00:32

Could you not have moved the rugs for the duration of the holiday if you were worried?

Sirzy Fri 18-Jul-14 16:01:14

did you not look at pictures before you booked it?

BackforGood Fri 18-Jul-14 16:01:22

Did you not see photos of the cottage before you booked - on the website perhaps ?
Did you not see the open staircase / fire in middle of floor / polished floors and rugs ?
Did you not mention the window locks to the lady at the time?

Not that I agree with them with-holding the deposit (and obv you wouldn't be able to tell about the window locks), but some of those things must surely have been a risk you decided to take when booking the cottage.

sillystring Fri 18-Jul-14 16:03:06

Chelsy They had a replacement bed to hand and said they would bring it round the very next day. The caretaker told us we had "nothing to worry about" regarding the breakage as it was obviously because of the rug on the floor that had caused the slippage. The window locks had nothing to do with us, the owner is making that bit up entirely. There has now been a volte face since we got home.

sillystring Fri 18-Jul-14 16:05:00

It's not clear from the website how steep the garden is, nor can you tell there is no banister on the stairs. We removed one rug which was placed at the top of the stairs and really was an "accident waiting to happen".

WipsGlitter Fri 18-Jul-14 16:05:53

I would have removed the rug.

ChelsyHandy Fri 18-Jul-14 16:13:04

If theres been a turnabout, whats your problem?

I run holiday lets and lets just say there is a certain category of guest which always finds something to complain about. I go on holiday myself obviously, and if you look hard enough, you will always find things to complain about, and to be honest, a lot of them are trying it on for a discount. When genuine guests break things, which is rare, they are invariably genuinely mortified and offer to replace it or tell us to keep the whole deposit. For instance, I found dust on a carpet at a 5 star hotel. But slippy tiled floors are the norm in hot countries, and tend to have rugs in living areas and bedrooms, so what on earth do you do when you go to Spain or somewhere similar?

And if I was going on holiday to North West Scotland, steep moss covered paths would have me in throws of delight. As would steep staircases, small attic bedrooms, etc. and indeed the polished floors, because they would at least be a damned sight cleaner than the carpet at Chateau Lake Louise!

ExcuseTypos Fri 18-Jul-14 16:14:44

I think they are lucky that they've got this far without someone having a serious accident. They obviously need to get rid of the rugs and put on the website that the property isn't suitable for young children.

I think they should definitely give you your money back. I do think you emailing them pictures of the rug and your DH's bruise should push them in the right direction.

partialderivative Fri 18-Jul-14 16:16:01

They said they would return the money if everything was ok.

But it wasn't.

TheCraicDealer Fri 18-Jul-14 16:16:35

The relevant article of legislation would be the Occupiers’ Liability (Scotland) Act 1960, whereby the occupier has a duty of care to any visitor to their premises. However, this doesn't make them automatically liable for any accident that takes place on the premises.

If the floor is a typical, standard timber floor with no unusual features then you might struggle if you did decide to claim. However, I would question whether placing rugs with no gripping strips in a high traffic area is a good plan in a holiday rental property advertised (presumably) as suitable for the family market.

I would respond with a picture of your husband's bruising and a request that they confirm that an accident book entry was completed, see what their reaction is. They may well refund you to get rid of you and save the hassle of a potential claim.

whatsonyourplate Fri 18-Jul-14 16:17:15

I looked into the health and safety requirements of holiday lets some time ago because of some issues with somewhere I stayed. It was a good few years ago but I think I ended up raising it with the local council. Might be worth investigating as insufficient fire escapes would be a building regs issue (assuming Scottish system is similar).

londonrach Fri 18-Jul-14 16:22:17

Don't know about this one. You broke the bed which is what the deposit is for. On other hand it was caused by the flooring. Why did you not remove the rugs. Personally the fire wouldn't have bothered me but the staircase a huge no no and I couldn't have stayed there. (Feel of heights and stairs without bannister...shudder) I think in your case I'd take photos of your husband wounds and approach them and suggest a claim unless the money was returned. Might be an idea to approach the booking firm.

sillystring Fri 18-Jul-14 16:24:07

Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

In Scotland I know if you are a registered childminder you have to jump through hoops to get your house suitably up to code for looking after DCs but not sure how this extends to holiday lets.

The youngest member of our party was 13 but if you'd arrived there with toddlers or elderly or anyone with mobility issues, it would have been a nightmare. There's nothing on the website to warn you of this though.

And Chelsy...the turnabout is that the caretaker said everything was OK but when we got home we were told it wasn't and the owner made up the stuff about the window locks.

FYI I've stayed in holiday homes roughly twice a year for the past 30 years and have NEVER encountered this issue before.

ChelsyHandy Fri 18-Jul-14 16:24:51

But Building Regulations only apply if its a new build or new conversion.

It really doesn't sound like a "nightmare". People do occasionally just slip...

I'm genuinely astonished how someone can break a wooden bed by slipping into it. Your DH must be very heavy.

You really must excuse my sceptical tone, because I really have heard everything. We had guests once who prised off tiles in the shower cubicle, then made a mess by trying to stick them back on with No More Nails. I kid you not. As we were standing around scratching our heads, baffled at the explanation being given by them that they "just fell off", another guest walked by and said "That's what you get for having sex in the shower"....

m0therofdragons Fri 18-Jul-14 16:26:54

�150 for a broken bed seems cheap to me. Your husband tripped on a visible rug... It was an accident, and he, by your admission, broke the bed. If it was unsafe at the time you should have complained not waited until they wanted money. If it was that unsafe why did you stay?

sillystring Fri 18-Jul-14 16:30:20

My DH isn't particularly heavy. He weighs just under 11 stones. The bed could easily have been repaired with about £10 worth of timber.

I don't doubt that people renting out holiday homes have some nightmare tenants who damage the property and take the piss, but we're not like that at all.

Anyway, thanks for genuine advice from those who have given it, I really appreciate it and take it on board.

sillystring Fri 18-Jul-14 16:31:10

And building regulations WOULD apply...it's an attic conversion.

m0therofdragons Fri 18-Jul-14 16:31:13

Never rent a house in the Mediterranean - shiny tiles and rugs.... Don't run around in socks and look where you're going. You didn't have young children or anyone with mobility issues so that is a pointless complaint

TheCraicDealer Fri 18-Jul-14 16:36:15

It’s not that odd; it’s a holiday let so probably not the best quality furniture in the first place and has probably seen a few seasons’ use. Plus all wood is weaker along the natural grain. The OP said the fissure was beside the knot in the wood. Not that unlikely, especially if her DH was mid-stride when the mat slipped and he fell heavily on the bed. Stranger things have happened.

ChelsyHandy Fri 18-Jul-14 16:45:00

sillystring And building regulations WOULD apply...it's an attic conversion

Not all attic conversions are new. You get plenty of older properties with attic conversions.

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