A vacation rental home is a type of property that can be rented out for a certain period of time that occurs during what is considered a vacation season (e.g., spring break, summer vacation, etc.). A vacation rental home may also be rented out for specific getaway purposes like for a destination wedding or an annual event. 

Although a vacation rental home can technically be located anywhere in the world, the majority of vacation rental homes are situated in towns or cities that are associated with tourism or vacation-related activities. These include Miami, Honolulu, Las Vegas, and other similar destinations. 

The towns or cities where a vacation rental property is located also tend to have weather that corresponds with the activities that a place is known to offer. For example, if you rent out a vacation home in Vail, Colorado, to go skiing for winter break, then you can assume that the weather in Vail will likely be snowy or at least cold.

While renters could easily book a hotel or motel instead, some vacation rental homes may offer more financial incentives than what one could get from staying in a hotel or similar lodging. For instance, a hotel may only provide a place to sleep at night if it is not an all-inclusive deal. 

On the other hand, a vacation rental home gives you the opportunity to not only sleep, but also to make your own meals, so you will not have to spend extra money on dining out at restaurants like you would if you stayed at a hotel.

In addition, vacation rental homes are typically one family housing units. However, this particular type of lodging may also include other kinds of properties, such as large cabins, multiple family dwelling units, or separate condominium apartments. 

What Are Some Common Vacation Home Rental Disputes?

No one wants to consider the possibility of something going wrong while trying to relax on vacation. However, there are some issues that could arise when staying at a vacation rental property. Some common vacation home rental disputes that might occur when a person is the owner of a vacation rental home include:

  • Issues concerning the sale or purchase of a vacation rental property;
  • Conflicts regarding rental payments made by the patrons (e.g., bounced checks, missing payments, defaulted payments, etc.);
  • Disputes concerning ownership of the property in the event of a divorce, will contest, or some other similar situation; 
  • Destruction or damage done to the property that was caused by the vacationers or their guests;
  • Disputes or issues regarding the property’s home loan or home mortgage payments;
  • Issues concerning the property’s title, boundary lines, and/or land use and zoning purposes;
  • Permission to engage in illegal or unsafe activities while staying on the property, such as drug-related crimes or excessive noise violations; and/or
  • Failure to properly comply with safety or health guidelines associated with the property (e.g., property owners may not visit the property enough times per year to maintain it).

On the other hand, some common vacation home rental disputes that might occur when a person is renting out a vacation rental home include:

  • Disputes over extra fees, interests, and the total amount of rent owed;
  • Conflicts regarding the safety, cleanliness, and/or maintenance of the vacation rental property;
  • Premise liability or personal injury issues that arise in connection with the vacation rental home or property; 
  • Disputes over not receiving a return or rental security deposit; 
  • Complaints concerning the amenities or furnishings inside or outside the home; and
  • Disputes over misrepresentations or false advertising of the vacation rental property.

As is evident from the examples in the above list, vacation rental homes can actually be subject to a number of different legal disputes, even though they might not be occupied for an entire calendar year. It should be noted, however, that the more a vacation rental home is visited, the greater the chances there are that a legal dispute or issue will occur at some point in the future.

How Are Vacation Home Rental Disputes Resolved?

If the parties to a vacation home rental dispute cannot resolve the issues on their own or settle them through informal negotiations or by attending mediation sessions, then the parties will need to file a lawsuit with the court. 

In such a scenario, a lawsuit will typically result in a monetary damages award for the non-breaching party. However, if the non-breaching party fails to prove their claim, then the case will likely be dismissed by the court and no damages will be issued.

Some common reasons that a court may issue a monetary damages award to a non-breaching or the prevailing party in a vacation home rental lawsuit include:

  • If one of the parties was in breach of the rental contract or some other agreement associated with the property (e.g., home mortgage loan);
  • If the vacationer and their guests failed to pay the additional fees or for any damage to the property that they caused;
  • If the owner of the vacation rental property failed to abide by the requirements to maintain the premises, clean the home, and remove hazardous conditions that resulted in the renters sustaining injuries caused by the owner’s lack of upkeep;
  • If a prospective buyer backed out of the home purchase contract after agreeing to buy the vacation rental property and signing the contract;
  • If the criminal activities being permitted on the vacation home rental property led to its owners receiving and having to pay criminal fines to the state; and 
  • If the vacationers stole property from the vacation rental home (e.g., furniture, cars, etc.) or the property owner keyed in and stole personal belongings from the renters). 

Additionally, in more complex cases, such as those that do not involve renters or have multiple complicated legal issues, the court may issue an order that resolves the issues through other means.

For example, if the property owner hires a maintenance company to take care of the vacation rental property when they are out of town and the maintenance company fails to do so, then they may sue the maintenance company for breach of the employment contract. In which case, the court may recommend that the parties edit or cancel the contract, depending on the specific facts of the case.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help Resolving a Vacation Home Rental Dispute?

Vacation home rentals offer great financial benefits to individuals looking for places to stay when traveling or vacationing during holiday seasons. They can also serve as a good source of supplemental income for vacation home rental property owners. 

However, as discussed above, vacation home rentals can cause a lot of stress due to the vast array of legal issues and disputes that may arise in connection with these types of properties. It also does not help that such lawsuits can often involve different types of law, which may vary from state to state. 

Therefore, if you are experiencing issues or are involved in a dispute over a vacation home rental property, then it may be in your best interest to contact a local landlord-tenant lawyer for further legal guidance. An experienced real estate lawyer can provide useful legal advice about the issues and your rights under the relevant laws. Your lawyer can also help you file a claim and provide representation in court if necessary.