Feefo logo
Get a Quote Renew an existing policy

How to Make a Complaint About Holiday Cottage Accommodation

Reading Time: 9 minutes

The self-catering accommodation industry has often been the brunt of bad press – primarily due to complaints about a holiday let not being as advertised, being dirty or damage deposit refund disputes. Holiday cottage booking agents are also guilty of shunning accountability when things go wrong, by stating the booking contract is directly between the accommodation owner and the guest.

The law for holiday accommodation is not too helpful either, because while there is protection for people booking a package holiday, the same cannot be said for renting a holiday cottage – whether there is an agent involved or not.

It’s probably fair to say that most holiday cottage owners and agents do an excellent job of maintaining high standards for their guests. They realise the importance of good customer service and ensuring the quality of their holiday properties.

But when a property does not live up to expectations then it can completely ruin that precious holiday that you have so looked forward to. Naturally, you will want to make a complaint and have something done about it.

Your holiday booking is likely to be a binding contract, so there will be steps you must take when complaining to improve your chances of receiving some form of redress.

Here is our guide on how to complain if your holiday accommodation was not as promised.

How to complain when holidays go wrong

Do you have grounds for a complaint?

It is important to remember that complaints can be subjective, some people complain just for the sake of complaining. Use your common sense – is the complaint more to do with your subjective likes and dislikes or is there a genuine quality or safety issue that needs to be addressed? Did it have a serious impact on your holiday?

Keep a sense of perspective. How bad is it really? Are you blowing a small thing out of proportion? If a hot tub was advertised, but there isn’t one, you have every right to complain as you probably booked the accommodation based on there being one. However, if several minor details affected your holiday, e.g. you found hair in the plughole or there aren’t enough coat hangers, how this affects the enjoyment of the holiday is subjective.

The accommodation provider must supply the holiday cottage as promised and with reasonable standards under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If they haven’t or you have the opinion that a term in the booking contract that is being enforced is unfair, you might have grounds for a complaint.

Holiday letting consumer rights

If the accommodation is not of satisfactory quality, not as described or not fit for purpose then the provider may be in breach of consumer law. You could use this law to gain redress.

The booking terms and conditions should also be fair and reasonable under the Consumer Rights Act. An unfair contract is unlikely to be legally binding and unenforceable. Excessive cancellation fees, changing the goods or service, or changing the price are all considered unfair terms.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015
Supply of Goods and Services Act

Is the contract with the owner or agent?

It can be difficult to know who you complain to if you booked a holiday cottage through an agent. Although you book and pay the agent for the holiday, the individual owner is likely to be responsible for the upkeep of, and any problems with the holiday accommodation. However, it is in the agent’s interest to help resolve problems.

Report it immediately

You have a duty to report any issues to the owner or agent as soon as you are aware of them. By phone and in writing (so there’s a paper trail) outlining what the problem is – and the solution you want. If you’ve booked via a listing site e.g. Airbnb and your host is unresponsive or unable to correct the problem, make your complaint to the resolution team via your account.

Often, there will be a quick solution to your problem e.g. a minor cleanliness issue that’s easily resolved by the host re-cleaning.

You must allow the owner or agency the opportunity to remedy the situation for you. Hopefully, it will be fixed quickly, and you can get on with enjoying your holiday. If you’re still dissatisfied, the fact that you’ve allowed them to address the problem will help you make a better case.

If you don’t say anything until you get home, you might make it much harder to get compensation for your holiday accommodation. It’s a bit like complaining about a meal in a restaurant after having eaten all the food.

Be friendly and reasonable

How your holiday letting complaint is handled can depend very much on how you communicate the problem. An owner or agent will be far more willing to help you if you keep the hostilities to a minimum, even if you are angry.

Often, the owner or agency will not be aware of problems if the previous guests haven’t reported them, so they have never had a chance to fix them in between bookings. It could also be a genuine oversight e.g. the cleaner forgot to put fresh towels out in the ensuite during a quick changeover.

Remember, due to the constant flow of guests, things break down which is unlikely to be the fault of the owner. Most owners and agents do genuinely want to help. Confrontation is counterproductive if you want to resolve a problem, it’s important to remain calm and reasonable.

Gather evidence

If there is a problem and you are not satisfied that it has been resolved, keep copies of any written correspondence, or logs of phone calls and gather evidence of the problem via photos and/or video. Whether it’s a safety issue, dirty property or things not being as described, having evidence will be enormously helpful should you need to take your case to the Small Claims Court or arbitration.

Put it in writing

If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, write an official letter of complaint by registered post to the cottage agency, owner or booking site when you get home. Check the booking terms and conditions for the complaints procedure. Make sure you keep subjective personal opinions and emotions out of this letter, and instead make a clear concise list of all the facts relating to your holiday let complaint.

You need to outline why the holiday did not live up to the contract between yourself and the accommodation provider. Was the holiday accommodation dirty or mis-sold? Did the photos bear little resemblance to the disappointing reality? Make sure you read through all the marketing material used to sell the holiday as well as the terms and conditions of your booking.

Give each item its own numbered paragraph, matching these numbers up with the supporting evidence of the mis-selling. Also, make a note of the time and date each issue was reported, what the response was and what action has been taken so far.

If you feel that the problem wasn’t resolved even though you gave them the chance, state clearly why you think that was the case, how it affected your holiday and the amount of money you think you should get back.

If the agent or owner is demanding money and you think the contract is unfair and can’t be enforced, write to the company explaining this.

How to get compensation for holiday accommodation

Before you start demanding a full refund, put things into perspective.

-Was the incident out of the property owners’/managers’ control?
-Did they take reasonable steps to rectify the situation?
-Did you give them the opportunity to rectify the situation?

Your request for compensation should be warranted. If the property manager tried/or solved the problem, or you only complained after completing your holiday – it is much harder to insist on a full refund.

Until a court says otherwise, any compensation is at the discretion of the holiday cottage owner or agent. For minor incidents, such as no heating for a few hours, then a goodwill gesture such as a bottle of fizz or discount off a future stay may be sufficient.

If only one day or night of your stay has been affected, then a refund equivalent to the cost of 1 night’s accommodation is generally acceptable. You also can’t expect a full refund if you decided to leave on day 5 of a 7-night stay.

If you feel you have been deliberately misled e.g. there are only 2 bedrooms, not 3 as advertised, then you may wish to pursue a full refund if you decided to leave soon after arriving.

If you haven’t successfully resolved the complaint at this stage, it’s time to escalate it.

Complain to a trade body 

You can report the business you believe is behaving unfairly to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). You could also report the matter to your local trading standards department, the local/regional tourist board or the trade association that is responsible for grading the accommodation.

Often, the threat of reporting the accommodation is enough to persuade the host or property manager to settle your complaint amicably.

Did you pay by credit or debit card?

If there was a breach of contract and you paid by credit card, you may be able to claim back money through your card provider (Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974).

If you paid by debit card you may be able to contact your bank and claim a chargeback, but there is only a short window in which to make a claim.

Contact a consumer champion

Your chances of getting redress from a reluctant owner or agent are extremely low. If you still don’t get the desired outcome, then there may be more “official” channels you can try to force a resolution to the dispute.

There are several consumer champion journalists who have helped travellers who have had problems with a holiday (see the case studies below). You could try contacting them if you feel you’ve been a victim of injustice.

  • champions@theguardian.com
  • asktheexperts@telegraph.co.uk (giving your full name and, if your query is about a dispute with a travel company, your address, telephone number and any booking reference).
  • The Telegraph’s consumer champion on Twitter @KatieMorley_
  • experts@thisismoney.co.uk (email with Consumer Fight Back in the subject line, include a short paragraph about your issue).
  • Maisha Frost on maisha.frost@express.co.uk
  • https://twitter.com/ComplainingCow/ Helen Dewdney, consumer champion, blogger and author. 

Consumer champion case studies

Housekeeping failures
After a difficult night’s sleep in uncomfortable, stained, damp beds, the guests decided they didn’t want to stay any longer and requested a full refund. The agency said that the dispute was between the holidaymakers and the owner of the property. The owner offered £100 as a goodwill gesture. The guest refused and insisted on a full refund. This was received following a final letter to the owner’s solicitor requesting a full refund before taking court action.

Parking and hot water problem
These holidaymakers chose a holiday cottage because off-road parking was available. When they arrived, they realised all was not as the advertisement had indicated. The water heating system was also on the blink, so they decided to head home the day after they arrived. The complaint to the holiday letting agency and request for a proportionate £200 refund fell on stony ground. That was until the Express asked it to review the matter again. This time its response was completely different. They received a £200 refund and a £75 voucher as goodwill gestures.

Family abandons holiday after just 3 hours because of ‘filthy’ cottage
Sykes Holiday Cottages provided a full refund. Gathering supporting evidence (photos) proved their complaint was valid.

The small claims court 

If you are still unhappy with the host or agent’s response, you have a right to challenge a contract if you think it’s unfair. The next step is to escalate your complaint and take court action, the court will then decide if a term is unfair.

Hopefully, it won’t get to this stage. In some instances, a written threat of legal action can be enough to resolve matters.

Before you start legal action against holiday accommodation, you have to weigh up the cost and energy required to pursue the claim versus the amount of compensation you want to claim back.

If the amount involved is below the small claims limit (£10,000 in England and Wales or £3,000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland) the small claims track is a relatively quick, low cost and simple way of taking your case to court.

Here’s one example where a holiday let landlord was ordered to pay £2,000 damages after forcing a family out of the cottage during their holiday. They sued for unlawful eviction and breach of contract.

For information on the court route visit:

To claim against a company or owner outside the UK you can ask the UK European Consumer Centre for help.

You could also go down the mediation route. The Civil Mediation Council (020 7353 3227; civilmediation.org) offers telephone-based mediation to resolve disputes for £50 per hour for claims up to £5,000.

If the amount of money involved is higher than the small claims limit, or if the claim involves some form of personal injury or illness, then you should take legal advice. You’ll probably need to appoint a solicitor.

If you have legal expenses insurance as part of your home or car insurance, you may be able to get free legal assistance. Check your policy for details.

To summarise  

One thing that sets self-catering accommodation providers apart from large hotel chains is the personal service you get – owners and agents care about their guests. Successful lettings depend on trust and all parties acting honourably. Holiday let complaints are few and far between because most guests and owners resolve problems amicably.

Our advice:

  • Taking a civilised and reasonable approach is more effective than getting angry and shouting the odds.
  • You must report problems straight away so that the owner or agency has the opportunity to try and remedy the situation.
  • Be reasonable, was the incident out of their control?
  • Make sure you gather evidence to support your complaint.
  • If the issue is not resolved during or immediately after your stay, write an official letter of complaint.
  • An unfair booking contract is unlikely to be legally binding and unenforceable.
  • Until a court says otherwise, any compensation is at the discretion of the holiday property owner or agent.
  • If you are unhappy with the outcome, you can make a small claims court application, but weigh up the cost and energy required versus the amount of compensation you want to claim back. Sometimes, the threat of legal action is enough to resolve disputes.
  • Avoid attacking the owner online, or it could be you who ends up being sued for defamation.


  • Heather Bayer |

    Great article. I would add that review sites are not the platform to make an initial complaint, nor are they a place to complain about weather, or other issues beyond the owners control. I often see reviews posted that make negative comments about aspects of the vacation that could not possibly be the responsibility of the owner or agent – bad service in a local restaurant, or an attraction that closed early, for example.

    • Philip |

      Good point Heather. However, if guests have exhausted all other means to resolve disputes with owners or leting agencies and still feel unhappy with the outcome, then review sites are a useful platform to give feedback. Owners can also reply with their side of events so third parties can form their own conclusions.

  • Susy |

    Thank you for this article! We just spent our vacation at a cottage where the power was turned off for four days because the owner did not pay the bill. We were cold, no water, in the dark, food ruined and had to eat out. After the fourth day, we left. The price was 100.00 per day, the owner is pretty odd! What would you recommend for compensation?
    Thank you

    • Philip |

      Surprised you stayed for four days in those conditions. Have you been in contact with the owner to discuss a refund? Maybe suggest a refund for the 4 days affected as you can’t reasonably expect a full refund if you had a few days where there weren’t any problems. It’s usually better to come to an agreement where both parties are happy with the settlement rather than pursue the other alternatives suggested in this post.

  • Adele |

    Really useful article, thank you. We stayed in a cottage during the summer, it was advertised as having central heating-when we got there it had an old back boiler that didn’t work, so no heating for the whole two weeks! Yes it was summer, but for 5 days of our holiday it rained, making the property cold and damp-no other heating was available. The hot water was by an immersion heater which we had to switch on every morning. In addition to this the kitchen ceiling leaked when it rained. We reported it to the agents but nothing got done during our stay so we complained on our return. After 7 weeks they have just offered us £150, our holiday cost £1600! They haven’t answered any of our questions and the excuse for the delay is because the owner lives in Australia and hasn’t replied to their emails. Have we got a case for a full refund?!

  • Cathy |

    We have recently stayed in a cottage, which for November, at 27 degrees plus, was far too hot! The heating was underfloor, powered by an eco-wood burner that the owners looked after. We were told they did not know how to turn it down. We had to have doors & windows open – even though it was wet & windy outside. Also the wind made the tiles bang all through the night. The owners were aware of these problems but had not seen fit to fix them. We did not stay the full week. I have complained to the agency by email and requested a refund. I have not heard anything yet.
    If I have no joy I will resort to leaving my comments on Trip Advisor.

  • John |

    Not sure how I’m fixed…I booked a cottage in Cornwall earlier this year and it’s now time to pay the remaining balance. Just been on their website and it says that a neighbour is carrying construction work near the property. Obviously this may mean dust, banging, sawing etc, does that give me grounds to cancel and get my deposit back? £1500 for a week in total!!!

    • Philip |

      I would speak to the owner/agent and ask how much the construction work is likely to have an adverse effect on your holiday. Have any recent guests complained about the noise? Do any recent reviews from past guests mention the construction work? A goodwill gesture from the owner/agent (e.g. a % refund or a contribution towards a meal at the local pub, voucher for a local tourist attraction) may be warranted depending on the extent of the disturbance. Cancelling the holiday is an overreaction as it’s out of the owners control and the accommodation is still available. Speak to them, you might be worrying unnecessarily.

  • Harry |

    Currently renting a modern “two bedroom holiday let” for a week in Surrey for 1200 pounds a week. The agents advertised a designer kitchen with dishwasher, however the dishwasher does not work and the agents were aware of this before we moved in. Additionally the agents claim that no dishwasher was mentioned in the advert on Booking.com, but clearly it does ! Apartment is describing as having a “Designer Kitchen” with dishwasher. Also tiolets leak and cannot be repaired as plumber claims not to have the parts in stock. Window handle is broken, clothing / airer broken, one bed broken. Second bathroom stank when we moved in. All these were brought to the attention of the agent. They have offered an extra two hours on the day of departure as compensation. The agent continues to describe the flat as a designer flat with designer kitchen yet fully aware of the faults, surely a case of misrepresentation. I have contacted them on many occasions and they have promised to return calls but never honored. Once litagation was mentioned they then put the phone down, yet still advertising on Booking.com. What is the way forward ?

    • Philip |

      Hopefully the advice in this post covers the necessary steps to take.

  • Tash |

    I booked a stunning holiday home in Cornwall at £2400 p/w to which I had power cuts to the property for the first 2 nights. They sent an electrician to fix the problem which he couldn’t do so I requested to move properties. They did this but to a lower standard of property of £1500 p/w.
    So I have asked for a refund of the difference not any compensation. Do you think I have the right to claim this. I am prepared to go to court over this even if it looses me money in the process!

  • babs |

    The problem with private holiday accommodation can be that the host will have mostly had no professional training and so you will be at the mercy of their personal character traits. One place we stayed (self catering) we left clean and tidy and yet received an odd and confounding email complaining at the terrible state we had left things in and listing our ‘misdemeanors’! At another place, which had otherwise been lovely, the wifi didn’t work, and as this was fairly necessary to us, we reported this. After my second request for it to be fixed, I received an emotional reply saying that we should find alternative accommodation, which in the particular circumstances would not have been feasible (although to be fair they did offer a refund). I’ve also been told off for using the shower in the afternoon!!

    • Philip |

      Sounds like you have been unlucky. With attitudes like that I don’t expect their guests to return. Most owners/managers offer a personal 5* service which is what typically sets holiday rentals apart from large hotel chains.


    We rented a terraced cottage where the property next door was undergoing a complete refurbishment. Day one was replacing the floorboards! This lasted for the entire period of our stay. I have video evidence. Do I have any redress?

    • Philip |

      I would have thought some form of compensation is appropriate. Did you report this to the agent/owner at the time?

  • Carl fisher |

    All good info. But what about if you rent a property from a UK resident but the property is in UNITED STATES. Can you still make a claim against them through UK small claims track? Or should it be pursued through the courts in its home state of USA.

  • Ray |

    I recently rented a carefully chosen cottage in Wales. During the first night there was a flood in the kitchen because of a fault with the boiler. The agency offered us an unsuitable, alternative flat which we declined. They then offered a second flat in a different location which we reluctantly accepted. Organising this meant that we ended up losing a day of our holidays, and spending the remaining time in a location we did not choose. What do you think is reasonable compensation?

    • Philip |

      Hi, as you mention losing a day of your holiday, the cost of 1 day pro-rata would be a starting point.

  • Anne |

    I have a cottage booked for next weekend through an agent, there has been a flurry of recent reviews in relating to heating and hot water not working correctly. I have contacted the agent who has said it is fixed, but then more reviews about the same issue. Due to a medical issue I have asked if I can change the accommodation, based on reviews and offered to provide evidence. I was again told everything was fine, then received an email saying the owner was attending at the weekend to fix the heating and the agent was awaiting a report from British Gas.

    I have asked for contact details of the MD so I can deal directly with her, I have not been given these details, so have asked via the generic email that this be escalated to her. I have received no further correspondence or acknowledgement, is there any further action I can take. I was advised that if I cancelled if the cottage was not re-let I would lose all my money, I don’t want to cancel I just want warm accommodation where I control the heating not the owner.

    • Philip |

      I would get it in writing if the heating is fixed. Then you will have grounds for a complaint if there is a problem with the heating during your stay.

  • Andrew |

    Currently renting flat in Spain £2,400 for 2 weeks and neighbouring property being renovated, noise awful, jack hammers, banging. Owners say they can’t do anything. Five days into holiday and am going for refund but how do I assess noise inconvenience to holiday. Appreciate any comments or advice

    • Philip |

      I would gather video evidence to support your request for compensation. It’s up to the owner whether they do or don’t reimburse you, although I would expect that most owners would give some form of refund in this situation. If the owner is resident in the UK and you are unable to agree on compensation, then you could take them to the small claims court. Where they aware of the construction work?

  • Lynda Kingston |

    I rented a 5* luxury holiday let in Cornwall in December for a special occasion. We arrived to a musty cold filthy place with broken mirrors and furniture. We reported it and a representative was sent out to fix the heating, which improved it, but it was still cold. He also said that the place was filthy and took photo’s to put in a report.

    The whole place had obviously been not cleaned for some time as there was no way it could have built up to that state in a week or two. There were only 4 of us in a 3 bedroom let but there was only enough hot water for 2 showers. The sink area was disgusting and the dishwasher was filthy. We considered it a health hazard. There was also a mousetrap quite visible in the kitchen.
    There was a massive conservatory with sofas, easy chairs and a formal dining table and chairs. There was no heating in here at all, so as it was a December, we could not use it. That was the main attraction as there are sea views.
    The agency say our contract is with the owner and the owner insists that it is nothing to do with her. We have sent our photo’s and a written report to both parties. What should our next step be. We have asked for a copy of the report that the representative put in but no one seems to know who it was, which is very convenient.
    We paid £1200 for 2 weeks. The place wasn’t fit to stay in and was certainly nowhere near 5* or luxurious. I have asked the agent why there are no public reviews for this cottage and they say that no one has left any, which seems most improbable.

    • Philip |

      The agency say our contract is with the owner This seems to be a way some agencies get out of being accountable. You mentioned the place wasn’t fit to stay in, but did you leave early? If you stayed for the whole duration, then I expect this could go against your point. If you paid for the booking with a credit card, then maybe raise a dispute with your credit card company. Reviews are also a great platform for consumers to share both good and bad experiences that they have with a product/service. Write a review detailing your experience with the agency/property owner. They will have the opportunity to reply with their version of events. Have you followed the agencies official complaints procedure? Good luck.

  • M Roberts |

    What would you recommend as an appropriate % compensation to ask for, for difficulties with water for a couple of days?
    Unable to shower / wash up – no problems with flushing toilet or anything else. Owner fixed on 3rd day. There were public shower facilities close by, but that’s not what we wanted.
    Want to be reasonable, but was inconvenienced. Is a full day’s refund too much to ask for?
    Owner reasonable and I said I would follow up …. but don’t think he will give 100% per day as we had everything ok. Thanks

    • Philip |

      I would see what the owner offers as a goodwill gesture e.g. a 10% refund or a discount off a future stay would be reasonable. Unfortunately, the unexpected can happen when holiday letting.

  • Anderson susan |

    We had booked from the owner a selfcatering flat in Edinburgh and paid him 1.145.00 pounds in advance which is common practice for self catering flats. We arrived last week and the flat was stone cold. It was 5.5 C outside. We told the owner and all he had to say was, the heating goes on 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening at 18 C. People are out during the day anyway. We also had the feeling that the beds had not been changed after the people left he same morning. We told the owner we were not willing to stay in a cold flat and we would look for another place. Itt took us 2 days to find one. We asked the owner for our money back and were willing to pay for the 2 cold nights.
    He refuses to give us any money back and now we have to pay for 2 flats which makes it a bit heavy. We messed about all week long to get help, visit Scotland etc.
    What do you recommend we should do?. We are not even thinking of compensation, we just want our 1.1.45,00 Pounds back and Edinburgh will never see us again. This is not a way to treat visitors to this country.

    • Philip |

      Personally, I think that programming the heating to come on 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening at 18oC is insufficient. Everybody has different preferences as to what temperature they are comfortable with, especially those from overseas. Most owners allow guests to control the heating as this prevents uncomfortable guests and complaints. With regards to compensation, I wouldn’t expect a refund for the two days you stayed there. If the owner didn’t increase the temperature as requested or provide an additional heating source, then I would request a refund for the unused days. Let us know how this works out.

  • Richard |

    Philip, you wrote recently “The agency say our contract is with the owner. This seems to be a way some agencies get out of being accountable”. When the payment goes to the agent, isn’t there a contract with the agent. Should agents get away with saying the owner is in Australia/ill/refusing to negotiate and it is not our responsibility? Do you know of successful small claims against agents? Does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 clarify this?

  • Angela Underdown |

    Arrived at a cottage on a Fri afternoon for 7 nights. in side garden after we checked in i noticed a flood of water and could see its from an overflow pipe. I let the house keeper know and she frowned and said the owner was aware. He turned up next morning and said it’s a leak from tank in loft and too much of a effort to get up there that day to fix. I said it’s fine but he left. But also said we will see water coming from under fridge and that’s OK too!. Rolling forward to Monday eve I started feeling ill , and said to hubby at staying in..worst decision. Tues I felt awful and apart getting up midday ish I spent most in bed. There was not enough hot water to have a decent bath, show r or even wash dishes. Bed sheets were soaked from what ever I had and no mean’s to wash them. So we decided to go home on Wed.. thurs morning my hubbly gave cottage a spring clean and noticed live mould growing up the wall behind the TV caused by leak. The ownerswere aware as put air freshers around area. So thurs am I went to doctors and have a lung infection and am on steriods/anti fungal and antibiotics . Being in the cottage with electric heater on on eve right by mould was making me worse. I have written to the agency asking for compensation before I seek legal advice. Is this right or straight legal advice. I know owners name, should I go to him? I have also complained to environmental health

    • Philip |

      Looks like you have taken the right steps so far. I would wait for a reply from the agency and if you are unhappy with the outcome pursue it further. Ideally the cottage owner should have public liability insurance to deal with situations like this.

  • Carol |

    I booked a holiday caravan (on owners property) arrived on the Saturday, all fine til the Monday morning, no electricty, informed owner at 7.30am about an hour later owner came and found fusebox etc in wardrobe – circuit breaker had tripped….reset. Tuesday night at 10.30pm electric went off again. Again waited until 7.30am next morning and informed owner yet again. Came and looked and said give me 30 mins. Came back at about 9.30 with a boiled kettle when I asked what was happening was informed electrician on way. He came and fitted a new RCD thought alkbwoukd be fine. Then again this morning (wednesday) NO electricity. We were meant to be having a relaxing break and had been inconvenienced a total of three mornings, not at all relaxing. Couldnt face anymore mornings like this so informed the owner and came home. We left the place clean and tidy but obviously couldn’t vacuum as no electricity. The week cost £500 . Should I ask for a partial refund? Thanks in advance

    • Philip |

      Some form of goodwill gesture would be appropriate. However, it’s at the owners’ discretion.

  • Darry |

    I rented a villa that is fully licensed to sleep 6 people. 5 people were originally booked and a 6th joined last minute. Despite this, the prices to rent on the website are the same for 5 people as it is for 6 people so we assumed we would pay no extra. Whilst we was in the middle of the holiday the owner told us this wasn’t the case and we had to pay an extra fee for the 6th person otherwise legal action would be taken and authorities would eject us. I’ve checked my paperwork and I think I am in the right and he just wanted to overcharge. Please advise if I have case to claim as the owner is now ignoring my requests.


    • Philip |

      Did you get a discount for 5 instead of six guests? If so then the owner is entitled to charge for the extra guest due to the extra cleaning costs, wear and tear etc.

  • Denise Garthwaite |

    I have just found out the cottage I have rented has been given to someone else without being told. We are a group of 16 going in 2 cottages. I can’t get to speak to the manager to get a resolution – a receptionist is fobbing me off. Do I make a complaint to Trading Standards, do I take it to a solicitor?

    • Philip |

      Was the booking with a private owner or an agency? What does your booking contract say about cancellations?

  • Linda |

    I have recently stayed for seven days in a basement holiday flat. I noticed on arrival that the flat smelt musty and damp. There were numerous damp patches on the walls of the flat. I did telephone the owner to complain of the state of the flat. She, obviously, knew about it and said she couldn’t remedy the damp until September 2018 when the flat had no occupants. I spent a very uncomfortable week. My sleep was disturbed having to breathe in the damp particles and I developed a cough. I left a day early. I couldn’t go home before then as I had someone staying. I also could not afford to find accommodation elsewhere. This flat should not be occupied in its present state. Would I be able to successfully sue the owner in the Small Claims Court? I have various photographic evidence of all the damp. The booking was through an Agency. I have written a letter if complaint to the owner but am not convinced she will settle anything amicably. She already gave me the brush off in my telephone call and was very unhelpful.

  • Anne Ryan |

    We’ve been renting our rural 4-bed converted barn for a month and are getting to grips with the typical English renter. Having rented out a large ski-apartment in the Swiss Alps for 10 years (managed by us remotely from London) to Europeans and Brits alike with no aggro of any type, this new experience is a bit of a shock to the system. Initially pleasant when securing the booking, then the demands start rolling in. On top of the usual haggling (with emotional back-stories) on the clearly advertised and competitive price. Can we come 7 hours earlier? Can we stay 4 hours later? What should I wear? Can we bring a 9th person (our place sleeps 8), can we have free saunas, can we bring 7 dogs, can we bring a hot tub, can we stay another night for the same price, can we all have polyester duvets and pillows (because she thinks – but doesn’t know – if she and her family have ‘allergies’? And a bizarre complaint snapped out immediately on arrival: ‘I’ve packed for rain, but it’s sunny’. Reckon we’re just going to have to grow skins as thick as rhinos…

    • Philip |

      Hi Anne, all of this comes with the territory when holiday letting I’m afraid. Some guests can be demanding. Good luck!

  • Rebecca Timms |

    Hi, We returned 6 days ago from a week in a privately rented caravan in Cornwall. The terms and conditions stated that the caravan needed to be cleaned with the oven & hob left in a clean manner, fridge to be empty and clean, beds left tidy with respect shown to runners and cushions, carpets and floors to be hoovered and the kitchen/bathroom/lounge to be left in a clean and tidy manner.
    We paid £100 security deposit in advance of the holiday and we have been chasing via text and email to understand when the deposit will be returned to us.
    We had an email late last night stating that the fridge was left very dirty with spillages and red/pink substance at the back of the fridage which has permanently marked and ruined it and they have had to replace it. One of the bedrooms had chocolate mil spilt on the floor, wall and white door, staining it so bad that they have had to hire a steam cleaner to sort it out. New games they had bought had been mixed up and thrown into the cupboard, the toilet was filthy and they were lots of food remnants and stains all over and around the dining seat area and the window behind this area was filthy.
    Absolutely gobsmacked as the amount they are saying it will cost is £223.00 and they are refusing to pay the deposit back to us.
    We have photos of the lounge/dining area which shows it was clean and hoovered and tidy. We made the beds before we left and made them up how they were found, I have a photo of our double room. No food and drink was allowed in the bedrooms and was only consumed outside in the lounge/dining area so spilt mil was not possible. The fridge was barely used as we didn’t spend much time in the caravan and ate out, it was used to house a bottle of milk and a bottle of wine which the owners left us! And as far as the games go, these were not new and were old and tired and we found them in a mixed up state with bits missing and the only game we could play successfully was monopoly and a deck of cards!
    They have only just told us about the apparent damage and have not provided photos so how can I get my deposit back when they are refusing to give it to me? Any advice would be gratefully received!

    • Philip |

      I don’t understand why any owner would ask guests to deep clean the accommodation on departure. Guests and owners are likely to have different standards of cleaning. Who wants to clean on holiday? Sure, empty bins/the fridge and leave it tidy. Cleaning costs should be factored into the rental rate and the cleaning provided by the owner. The issues could have been done by previous guests. I would ask for proof that it was your holiday party.

  • matt |

    Recently we booked a holiday cottage in Netherton, Northumberland, that upon arrival smelled strongly of stale cigarette smoke even though it is marketed as being part of a non-smoking complex. There are no smokers in our party of 5 adults (1 of whom is disabled), 2 children and 1 infant. Anyway, I promised my wife that I would keep quiet about the smell until the rest of our guests arrived later on that Friday evening. However, they also immediately noticed the smell. We complained about the smell in writing the next day, Saturday, adding that attempts to mask it using air freshener, or blow it away with fresh breeze from the patio doors, only seemed to make it worse. We were told housekeeping would visit, and I asked for the likelihood that the issue would be resolved and received “hopefully on Monday”. Housekeeping brought a second can of air freshener and said whilst they could not smell anything (surprising; it was a real stink) they noted that the previous guests had smoked some kippers and that was likely to be the smell. We disagreed strongly with this theory, expressed our disappointment in th proposed “solution”, restated our complaint and asked what was the likelihood of it being resolved completely. Then we did not hear back for the rest of the week, so we stuck it out at the place given that we had driven up from the South West the day before the August Bank Holiday weekend – a journey of over 15 hours that we did not want to repeat immediately. When we finally did return home at the end of the week I found an email in my spam folder that the agent was aware of a smell before our arrival but were happy with housekeepings conclusion that it was smoked fish, and that they could not reasonably ban the cooking of smoked fish because it is a local delicacy. At this point I said we should agree to disagree about the cause of the smell and instead focus on the fact that there was a smell that they knew about before our arrival, that we had not been notified, and about which I had complained – unprompted and unknowingly. Surely that should be enough for an amicable agreement? Even so, I asked to be referred to the owner of the property just in case there was no agreement forthcoming. The agent took this opportunity to say that smells are personal things, they had acted professionally, and washed their hands of the situation. After a couple of days, no over one week since arriving home, the owner came back with a “gesture of good will” offer of £100. I find this unacceptable given the cost of the weeks holiday accommodation (~£1500) our lack of and also the lack of resolution whilst we were there. I have offered a compromise of having a smoke test done at the property by an independent/impartial third-party, so we’ll see what they say. What are your thoughts? Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thank you

    • Philip |

      Thanks for your comment. Personally, I think their gesture of good will is reasonable considering they tried to reduce the smell which wasn’t their fault. To eliminate the smell of smoke would require a deep clean which would have disrupted your holiday.

  • Sally Perks |

    We recently hired a villa in Majorca for a week at a cost of £3,300. Firstly the biggest inconvenience was that the electricity tripped off every time we cooked or used the kettle, initially we accepted it but by Tuesday it was tripping every 4-5 seconds whilst trying to cook a basic meal, we turned off every other electrical item, including fans and lights, uncomfortable in a hot kitchen at 38 degrees. During this time the washing machine was on and shrank clothes as it must have been affected by the tripping electrics. Someone came Wednesday fixed a bulb that was out and upped the fuse capacity, next morning whilst warming a croissant and boiling the kettle it was still tripping, we gave up trying to cook there! Secondly even though advertised as having English TV there was only CNN when we arrived, the instructions said we would be charged or messing with settings, but once they came there was lots of channels, my feeling is it’s not up to us to check with them they should be ensuring channels are available. Their reply is someone must have changed the settings on the TV., the electrics were fixed by upping fuse capacity and a barbecue was available, the washing machine was checked and runs ok ( but not checked whilst electric tripping) On their terms they have specifically mentioned electrics and TV and have a disclaimer accepting no responsibility but surely self catering should at the very least be that? They have offered £150 and money off next booking…….which will never happen! Is this fair and bearing in mind their rather dodgy disclaimer, all we would get? Thanks for taking the time to read my message.

    • Philip |

      This sounds fair considering the inconvenience.

  • Lynn |


    Are squeaky metal bunk beds a reasonable issue to warrant a refund ?

    • Philip |

      I don’t think so, but bring it to the owners attention so they can resolve the ‘squeak’.

  • Clare G |

    Hi, I’m not sure if you can advise as I did not make any complaints nor am I seeking a refund for my holiday lettting.

    When we returned home from a group weekend 2 members of my group eft reviews on Tripadvisor. These were balanced and honest but not terribly glowing. I didn’t feel the need to make any complaints or write reviews, preferring to simply not return to the property in the future. My friends didn’t act under my instruction and acted without my knowledge, I was the ‘party leader’ and made the contract with the owner. I met all the terms and conditions of the booking.

    The owner has refused to return my deposit stating “As a result I have retained the deposit for ‘damages’ as currently you are damaging my reputation. Once these untruths are removed then I will refund the deposit.”

    Is this fair and is it common practice ??

    • Philip |

      Wow, this is the first time I’ve heard of this! I would contact Tripadvisor to see if what the advertiser is doing is against their terms and conditions. Maybe they can intervene?

  • Paul |

    I recently rented a holiday chalet for a week, the chalet smelled of damp and was freezing cold. we had to come home on the Wednesday instead of Saturday due to the overwhelming smell of damp, I told the owner by text when I got home and they said that I should have contacted them and they would have relocated us, and asked if we had any photographic evidence, and that all places have their own smells and that the chalet was 50 years old. The owner has offered a mid week 2 night break in a caravan they own a few miles away, not really any good to me as its on a cliff top and I have trouble walking.

    • Philip |

      You should always give the owner or agency the opportunity to remedy the situation for you (unless there is an immediate health and safety risk). If you still aren’t satisfied, then check-out early.

  • Katie |

    We are owners and l really appreciate your clear advice on complaints, l only wish more guests would follow it. Having gone to huge effort to spruce up the cottage after the summer season we just had guests leaving a review saying the cottage was old and needed attention due to a dangerous gas cooker with flames that jumped on lighting and a leaking kettle, neither which on inspection afterwards was true. They claimed the beds had given them bad backs for days afterwards and when driving long distances, there was a lack of extra loo roll (they used towels instead) and complained they ran out on the third day of their stay. None of this was brought to our attention despite being on hand, they just posted it publicly. It is difficult to know how to respond to this.

    • Philip |

      Hi Katie, I wouldn’t worry too much. Everyone has their own personal preference for a mattress. With guests coming in all shapes and sizes it’s difficult to please everyone. In a self-catering property most guests would replace loo roll when running low. Like you say, they should have brought these to your attention. I would reply to the review, giving an honest account from your side.

  • Daisy |

    Hi Philip
    Recently stayed (11 nights) at a villa in Portugal. The advert before booking informed us that the pool had heating facility at an extra cost which we were happy to pay once we have assessed if the weather warranted it. Upon check in we requested pool heating was informed that they never had that facility. I have been liaising with the company that we booked from and have been offered 5% of the holiday cost. They have admitted that they falsely advertised pool facility. We booked the villa in February and they amended their advert in June and failed to inform us. Is 5% a reasonable amount for compensation
    Thank you

    • Philip |

      Is 5% a reasonable amount for compensation. It depends on what you are happy to accept and what the owner is willing to refund. Personally, I would have offered 10% or the equivalent of one nights stay as a goodwill gesture.

  • Delphine |

    We have made a claim against a company for poor quality holiday accommodation – poor maintenance, safety concerns and lack of cleaning. We are told that our contract is with the owners but the agent has not released details. How can we have a contract with an unknown person?
    Citizens Advice advised a formal letter to the agent giving details of our complaint with photographs and a deadline for a reply. We have had no response other than an email saying there would be a delay This followed a series of emails and a goodwill offer (rejected by us). What concerns us most is that some agencies can trade with no regulation of their holiday properties and they appear to hide behind an unnamed owner. We realize that many holiday properties are closely screened and graded by letting agents. Unfortunately, the cottage we stayed in was not.
    Our (curtailed) stay was 3 months ago.

  • Cathy |

    I had guest staying at a holiday let. Left early after 4 days and stated several complaints, most of which we strongly deny. Insisting on full refund even though no attempt made to contact housekeepers agents or owners to give chance to remedy any alleged faults. Talking of taking action against us if don’t pay up. Contract states must notify agents to give chance to remedy.

    • Philip |

      Do they have evidence to support their claims? Booking contracts are essential for this very reason. In the event of a dispute everything is in black and white. Do you have holiday home legal expenses insurance? If so contact the provider who should offer advice.

  • Susan |

    We had 7 guests at our holiday cottage. It is advertised by a large national company who visited and assessed it’s suitability prior to marketing and they decided it was suitable for 7. There are 8 standard sized seats in the lounge (3 seater, and 2×2 seater sofas plus chair) but one armrest of a single seat was broken (we believe by these guests, because the cleaner didn’t notice it before their visit) there were still 7 seats without that one. There are 5 chairs in the kitchen/diner but this is clearly shown on the pictures of the property. The guests complained that that only 4 of them could fit on the seating in the lounge and that one of their party (large person) found it difficult to fit in the bathroom. They complained to the holiday company and us half way through their holiday. The holiday company gave them a £150 voucher. We made £310 on the holiday and they are claiming £100 through small claims from us on the grounds of unsuitability for 7. What should we do? We spoke to them during their visit and no other groups of 7 have complained and have left great reviews!

  • Rebecca |

    I booked and stayed with my family at a cottage from 22nd December to 29th December 2018 and had the following problems which the company were informed of whilst we were there: Previous occupants had obviously used the oven which had resulted in the buttons on the timer being melted to the point where the oven could not be used. A considerable setback as a full Christmas dinner was planned with a Turkey and the trimmings. The local agency office did deliver a second microwave but this was not up to the job and was a short term fix until they delivered another oven on Christmas eve which we never received, therefore the celebration meal did not take place. Apparently the office did know there was a problem with the timer buttons before we arrived.

    With a 6 month old baby and a 4 year old with us it would have been advantageous to advise us of the situation regarding the water which was undrinkable, we were advised on arrival to use bottled water.

    We had 3 days with no WIFI and as the TV only worked with the internet this was disappointing over the Christmas period. The number of light bulbs not working or non existent was numerous although you can make do in most rooms the lights in the kitchen were required.

    I have complained via email and they have admitted all of the above although they stated we were offered a mini oven which we declined which is incorrect. My daughter and young family left on boxing day due to the conditions. The company have offered me £200 as a goodwill gesture which I feel is unreasonable and I have asked for 50% which equates to the 3 days with no WIFI and lack of oven throughout the stay. This would also bring the costs down to the normal weekly rate rather than the Xmas increase.

    Is their offer reasonable or am I right in my estimate of what I should be reimbursed?
    Thank you for reading my message.

    • Philip |

      What amount is 50% of the booking compared to £200 (which seems a reasonable gesture)?


    Just returned from Arran where a holiday rental cottage advertised a shower and bath. Unfortunately on arrival the owner had left a note saying electric shower was not working and we needed to use the bath but as one us had a bad back it was not really an option. Also the immersion heater, even on boost could note cope, with 8 baths a day. Owner not yet willing to compensate us. Are we being unreasonable expecting some compensation as a factor in selecting this cottage was the shower?

  • Sam |

    I am currently staying in a villa with private pool in menorca. The villa and pool is everything we hoped for however, the owner neglected to tell us that a large building site for a new hotel complex was currently under construction, approximately 10 metres from the villa! It is constantly noisy with machinery, industrial traffic and builders shouting all day long from 0730 until 1800 hrs. This was an expensive villa to rent and I feel the owner should have informed us of the building site when we booked the villa last year! We have reported this to home.Away but they have basically said it is not their responsibility and a resolution should be sought with the owner. The owner does not have another property we could relocate to and claims he didn’t know they would be building during summer season and only apologises. I feel compensation of some sort should be given but don’t know how to go about this now? Any suggestions?

    • Philip |

      Although the construction work is out of the owners control, if they (or the cleaner/property manager?) where aware of it they should have informed you. Are there any recent reviews from previous guests who mention it? A goodwill gesture would be nice from the owner. Hopefully it doesn’t affect your holiday too much.

  • emma howarth |

    Hi, we are just back from a week in a house in Rhoscolyn in Wales. We arrived on a Saturday and noted that we couldn’t open any windows in 3 out of the 5 bedrooms. Plus one of the bathrooms. (and the kitchen but less of a problem). We complained on the Sunday. They said someone would fix them on the Tuesday, but nobody arrived nor did they let us know that nobody was coming. They then said that the estate surveyor advised that the windows are not meant to be opened ever – but there were no signs on the window saying do not open, the latches worked, and obviously nothing on their website. They eventually dropped round 2 fans. And on the Wednesday another fan. But it meant the entire top floor of the house sleeping 10 people had one small window open for all rooms. It was full of stifling/stale air. The agency who we booked through said it was unacceptable when I complained again on Wednesday evening, and of course they would look into some form of compensation for us. We arrived back from holiday and heard nothing. I filled in their feedback form yesterday and still heard nothing. I’ve just called and been told that the owners have offered a £100 compensation. This feels a ridiculously low amount?

    • Philip |

      What % of the booking is £100? They did provide fans to try and help, so maybe a 10% refund would be reasonable? Hopefully the property manager will now provide enough fans for guests during hot periods.

  • Liz |

    On Friday, we are due to stay in a 3 bedroom ground floor apartment in Dorset for our annual 2 week family holiday. We have stayed in this apartment for the last 3 years and have been very happy with it, one of the main attractions being the large, tiered lawn that stretches in front of the house. The rest of the family stay nearby and this house becomes the gathering point so that we can all meet up in the evenings and the children can play in the garden. On leaving the property last year, we rebooked straight away. However, with a week to go before the holiday, a family member visiting the area found out that a 2 bedroom bungalow has been built on the flat area of the tiered lawn in front of the house, leaving our property with no garden at all, just a concrete patio. We were not informed of this at any point during the booking process or throughout the year and would not have rebooked this property if we had known, the garden being the main reason for us choosing it. The letting agent has apologised and accepted full responsibility for the communication error and has offered compensation. We paid over £5000 for the 2 week rental. What would you consider to be a suitable amount to request in compensation?

    • Philip |

      I would wait to see what the agent offers. Is the advertised price to rent the apartment still the same (without the garden) as it was previously?

  • Elizabeth |

    Hello, any advice welcome, thank you.

    We recently stayed in a cottage in Dorset which had furry mould problems, mouse droppings and was generally dirty and not maintained well. We arrived on the Saturday, wrote an email of complaint to the site we booked through on the Tuesday and heard from them on the Thursday by which time we had left (early).

    We did not contact the owner as they lived miles away so not a lot they could do. We were also trying to make the best of a poor cottage. Despite awful reviews going back years about the dirt nothing has been done.

    We have sent an official complaint and owner has offered us £200 back of the £900 we paid. We have declined. We do not feel it is in a fit state to rent and on principal want it sorted so that it doesn’t happen to others.

    What would your advice be?

    Kind regards

    • Philip |

      Did you have the owners/property managers/agents details whilst in the rental? If so it’s common practice to contact them with your complaints to give them the chance to put things right. With regards to the refund, that’s something that will have to be mutually agreed on. Always read the reviews before booking.

  • Chris marvin |

    Recently rented a flat in Southwold through trip advisor. On arrival there was water seeping through the ceiling onto light fitting. Made contact with owner who was aware of the leak

    as water coming througn the roof and not to worry as it wasn’t due to rain. We stressed about light fitting so put a note in light switch to not use. Next day it was still drpping so contact was made for owner to contact us urgently. On Monday builder came and the light fitting was capped off.next day plumber came and water was in fact coming from toilet. Toilet was out of use for half of our holiday. New part was in order but We had no toilet ensuite for remainder of holiday but had use of one in lower floor. Which was not nice in the middkexof the night!The owner was aware of the leak and there was no one in the property prior to us. Do we have any redress as we couldnt use our toilet or the dining room. This spoilt our holiday as my partner was stressed and it was a celebration birthday Holiday.
    Also had grandchildren with us so although we should have gone home we stayed

    TripAdvisor website is not clear on complaints

  • Jonny |

    We just returned from a 5 night holiday at a popular caravan par run by one of the UKs main providers.

    We made our booking based on information and photos from their website but when we got there we realised the accommodation was completely different in every way – different decor, different furniture, different layout. It was also a special caravan that had been adjusted for disabled users (none of our party were disabled).

    We actually saw this caravan on another website and chose not to book it as we preferred the one we booked which in hindsight was using incorrect photos and a misleading description (omitting to say it was an adapted caravan).

    We complained 5 mins after arriving and throughout the holiday but no alternative accommodation could be supplied, not even on another park.

    Whilst we made the best of it, but we would never have stayed in this caravan at any cost.

    We are chasing compensation, but struggling to put a fair price on what to claim – what is standard in this situation? They were responsive during our stay, but since returning home (10 days) they have ignored all communication so I fear this may be a section 75 claim on the creditcard company.

    Any help much appreciated!

    • Philip |

      It’s likely that they will have an official complaints procedure to follow – I’d start here to see if and what refund is offered.

  • Linda Lees |

    Rented a 4 star house with a reputable agent in Bowness, but they failed to tell me that they were not responsible for the maintenance and the cleaning of this property. Arrived on Saturday at 4pm, the whole house smelt, was dirty and scruffy. Rang the emergency number given to me by the agent,got through to their maintenance men who eventually arrived at 6.30pm, although they had never been in the house they agreed it was terrible. Took lots of photos, tried to find alternative accommodation but nothing. We ended up driving home. Rang office on Monday 9.30 am and complained bitterly. They knew about the problem but said they were surprised the maintenance had come at all. Crazy when that was the only emergency number given to me. Rang me at 11am and gave me a full refund. Took the house of their website. Today I have been offered a further £250 compensation and not sure what to do. That hardly covers our petrol to get there and back. A family holiday for 7 was ruined before the agent realised that they should have checked the house they were advertising.Members of my family had taken time off work and children of 5 and 8 were heart broken.

  • Ann |

    We rented a 7 bed house through an agency in Keswick. We should still be there! We paid £2600 for 9 nights for six adults and four children aged under 5 to stay. The accommodation was indescribably filthy. We complained to the owner who lived next door the following morning and he got cleaners in on day 3 but the dirt was so ingrained that the place was still unacceptable. We took a lot of photo evidence. The kitchen was awful and we had to clean it so we could use it. One of the shower units was held together with duct tape and the shower tray remained blocked despite the owner’s two attempts to clear it. He said he had no idea how long the duct tape had been there although we see now it is visible on the marketing picture on the agency’s website. On day four we looked at the mattresses as we weren’t sleeping and found they were stained and dirty and decided to come home – one of our party described it as an endurance. The agency was unable to provide alternative accommodation for a large party. They say our claim for refund is against the owner. The agency manager visited the property with the owner after we left, he reluctantly offers £1500, final offer. We want all, or at least £2200, allowing him £100 per night stayed to cover costs if necessary though to be honest I’d like all our money back plus compensation because we are so upset.

  • Grace |

    We have returned from a 5*( rental holiday cottage starring) barn conversation in Yorkshire. Whilst the barn was amazing, the adjoining property had building work, tarmacking and outside decorators up ladders for eight days out of our 14. Also the owner (different from our barn owner )renovating the adjoining property walked through our gates, across our patio “to measure the hot tub”,with no earlier request or permission sought, scarring my daughter and sister in law as they were in the property alone.
    I phoned / spoke to the Holiday rental company three times during our stay to say all that was going on was unacceptable, at the height of Peak Season too (August) building work is terrible and we were given no prior warning or even an apology, it was all ruining our holiday.
    On my return we wrote a full detailed complaint, along with videos and photographs.
    So far the owner has offered us a 20% refund but this covers two days of our stay and we had at least eight days with some sort of disturbance going on. I’ve told them it’s not really acceptable- am I bring unreasonable? It’s the first holiday rental I’ve ever had to complain about.

    • Philip |

      20% sounds reasonable as it was out of the owners control.

  • Julie Lofting |

    This is a long comment but I am still so angry about the way the host and letting site behaved it’s unacceptable. My youngest daughter booked a large house for 2 nights for her sisters hen party which I was attending there was 15 of us that paid towards this through my youngest daughter. On the day of some of the party arriving at the house we found the booking did not exist, all payed for by credit and debit card through the portals platform, my daughter tried calling in the week leading up to the event to see if the pool had been completed as we were told it would be for our stay, my daughter was told by the holiday company, who the host worked for, we will call you back, they never did. So we were already feeling a bit uneasy but I had made several bookings through the site without any trouble we hoped everything would be ok. On the day we repeatedly called, left messages for the host these were ignored. Whilst on the drive to the property my daughter called the letting site who also tried to contact the host, no response. So they just cancelled the booking and refunded us! I said hang on a minute we are miles from home and you surely have a duty of care to help us find another house our short break is ruined, and we have special events organised at the house as well as a food delivery. They sent us a couple of links and we had to find another house, now I am out of pocket as it was more expensive and it was not the same level of property as we had booked. Now I am trying to establish the best route to recoup the money I am out of pocket and to go after the host for goods and services not received and the stress and upset of the events that unfolded, they cannot be allowed to just get away with treating people in this way. The letting site sent my daughter a mug for the trouble!!!!!! They just wash their hands of it.

  • Tracy |

    Stayed in what was advertised as a luxury lodge but when we arrived it had numerous problems, appliances not working or fit for purpose. The accommodation was dirty, complained on many occasions to reception was no real resolution.
    Made a complaint to the site manager on return, we have just received a reply basically saying that their staff work hard and that if we had wanted luxury accommodation we should have booked one of there other lodges.
    We booked this lodge because it clearly states that the accommodation is like staying in a boutique hotel and that you will have a luxurious holiday.
    Is this false advertising if they are now telling you that if you wanted luxury accommodation you should of booked something else, when they are advertising it as luxury?
    We feel like they know it is not luxury but are not advertising this and are getting you to book under false pretences.
    They gave us a voucher for £100 off our next holiday, we paid £1500 for the week thinking it was going to be luxury.
    Could we go to trading standards as they seem to think that it is acceptable.

  • Elizabeth McEwan |

    My sister arrived at our rented property 6.00pm Saturday night, and as usual first check was the bedding. 1 Double and 1 twin room, each bed had stained duvets and pillows and one of the single bed mattress was brown stained over 1 third of the mattress. There was also a sofa bed which they did not look at . As I was the person responsible for the booking I called the out of hours number and told them of the situation, he offered to contact my sister at the property to try and sort things out. But I am afraid after seeing the state of the bedding my sister and partner wanted nothing to do with the cottage and left around 8.00pm Saturday night. I contacted the company on Monday sending photos of bedding in both rooms and as we did not give them the chance to rectify the situation they are not offering the full refund of £1,100 I requested for the 2 week stay. Having sent a couples of email to the company and in one of the replies they confirm that they visited the cottage and have replaced all the bedding and offered to clean the mattress. I am in the wrong to expect a certain level of cleanliness and not willing to stay in a property which allowed such dirty bedding. I would very much appreciate your thoughts,. Thank you

  • Suzanne |

    Arrived in our holiday home and it has an air retrieval system with vents in every room. It basically vibrates loudly when on. It goes off a 10pm luckily! As it droned all through the evening disturbing tv viewing and dining. Vents are right above the beds so we’ve been woken up at 05:45 by the system restarting 🙁 have emailed owner but response is that’s the system the house has! We measured it – not sure how accurate apps are but it’s 59db in the bedroom and living areas – we feel as even come to a rural country location we wouldn’t be having to put up with I industrial type churning whilst trying to enjoy property and sleep! Have paid via a company on a MasterCard. Sleep deprived this morning 🙁

    • Philip |

      Is it mentioned in the advertisement?

  • Mary Rowland |

    We are presently in self catering accommodation in the Peak District. The boiler has broken down. We have had intermittent hot water and heating for several days and none for 2 days. The owner has tried to fix the boiler but has been putting off getting a qualified plumber to fix it. We are here for our daughters wedding and need showers for clothes fittings.
    We have asked to use their bathroom but had no response. Have paid for 2 weeks by credit card.

  • Avril |

    Our holiday cottage had a nice photo and what appeared to be a normal parking space right outside the windows. We never book a holiday cottage unless it has onsite parking. If there is no parking, we don’t book. When we arrived it was clear that the photo had been very cleverly taken so that you could not see the reality. The “parking space” was a small mis-shapen area immediately bordering the road with a tatty garage wall on one side of it which belonged to the house next door and an area of rockery stones all round it. It was only suitable for a small or medium car but the advert just says the property has a “parking space”. We assumed that it meant that any standard production car would fit easily into the space. I’ve been driving for over 30 years – cars, lorries etc both in the UK and abroad and my car wouldn’t fit despite trying repeatedly to park it – you had to try to reverse into the space, not drive into it, because you would hit next door’s garage wall (which was cleverly not shown in the photos of the cottage) and the space was so narrow that my car was partly on the road (there was no pavement). The rockery stones all round were high enough to damage the car if you went near them and you couldn’t see them from inside the car. If by some miracle I had managed to park, when trying to open the tailgate, it would hit a shrub on the way up so we wouldn’t be able to open the rear of the car either! The road was very narrow but busy and there was parking on the opposite side only which was full up. The only other option was to park round the corner but the area itself was sadly quite scruffy and I didn’t want to leave my car out of sight – or trudge around carrying lots of luggage. We contacted the rental company who refused to help – they said that the owners said there was no problem (despite other people having said they had parking problems on the review pages which we only learned later). So the rental company said “we aren’t going to do anything, the owners say it’s fine and the case is closed”. We’ve since found out that there are many complaints in the reviews for this rental company, lots of them saying that the properties are not as described but the rental company just side with the owners, claim there is no problem and the customers lose their money, just like we have done. Their terms and conditions say that they are basically not responsible for any inaccuracies or omissions in property descriptions even though their home page says that they inspect every property. We have tried repeatedly to get them to deal with this but they just say that the case is closed.

  • FLIX |

    Perhaps you could redress the balance with the views and problems holiday home owners have with some visitors, most are lovely, unfortunately a few are horrendous. Damage, some costing large sums of money and discovered when the housekeeper arrives with visitors arriving in a couple of hours, wanting refunds for non existant problems with a bad review pending, bad reviews given with no substance to the claim. There is a huge amount of trust on the part of owners letting their house to complete strangers with no references taken, no guarrentee as to who they are.

  • Rick Bond |

    I have sympathies for both cottage owners and guests in equal measure when it comes to things going wrong. For the most part, owners are caring and wanting to make sure their guests have an enjoyable stress-free holiday. Likewise, guests who want the same thing.

    Here are three things I’ve learned over the years which paid dividends over the years.

    1. After cleaning a room, take a photo of it from a couple of angles on your mobile. Then if you get a complaint from a guest about the cleanliness of a property when they arrive, you at least have some evidence with which to compare their claim. I find that most cleaning companies are happy to do this – and those that won’t well, what are they trying to hide?

    2. A complaint can be a gift. Its usually made at the point at which the complainant still has faith that you’ll fix things for them. Acknowledging the complaint and resolving it straight away can work wonders. Even if it’s just having to provide fresh batteries for the TV remote take a packet of biscuits with you. Little things like this frequently result in 5-star reviews. Most people recognise that things can go wrong – it’s what happens afterwards that determines the way they will respond. You may feel like you are being ‘over-generous – but this approach can lead to repeat bookings which makes your complaint-response policy a good investment.

    3. if you use an agency, talk to them about their response to complaints: whose responsibility, what are the course of action they will take, what authority or permission are you happy to delegate to them to ensure a swift resolution etc.

    4. Act straight away. The longer you leave it before you respond, the more worked up the person making the complaint will get. Nip it in the bud.

    5. There are some things you need to include in your terms and conditions: Our state include a clause in which the booker has to accept that we are not responsible for the noise created by the dawn chorus. Seriously! We had a guest who had clearly read one of the ‘Get Your Money Back’ articles and chose this as one of their tactics. I turned up an hour later with a copy of our T&C’s which they had ticked the ‘I’ve read and accepted them’ box prior to booking and a small pack of earplugs. The result: Collapse of stout party, no further complaints and a 5-star review.

    • Philip |

      Excellent advice as always Rick.
      Point 1: A good tip that’s easy to do. There is also software available to do this (e.g. properly).
      Point 2: Spot on, even if the problem can’t be rectified immediately (need a part for washing machine etc.) the act of addressing the problem immediately eases tensions.
      Point 3: There should be a stringent complaints procedure in place so every complaint can be addressed.
      Point 4: We see time and time again that ignoring the problem will lead to disputes: a bad review, early checkout and a request for a refund.
      Point 5: Great tip – the joys of being a property manager!

  • Jeff |

    Currently staying in a holiday let cottage in Scotland with 6 people in total, 3 adults and 3 children, however upon arrival after a 10 hour drive we find out the water looks like it’s being pumped directly out of the loch beside us, very murky and residual! Collected what we’d deem the necessary evidence and reported it to the owner, they have offered us a refund, however at half 8 at night and been driving all day and it being near impossible to find any accommodation let alone for 6 at insanely short notice kind of forced our hand to stay and accept the water problem. Two of our guests our teenage girls who both happen to be @ that time of the month so to speak and it’s absolutely not suitable to bath/shower here, to say the water problem has dampened the whole experience would be putting it mildly! We certainly feel mis’sold on the whole of it, question is….. do we have a proverbial leg to stand on when it comes to a refund? Ps there’s no local facilities available to bathe shower clean or wash for miles around…..

    • Philip |

      You mentioned they offered a refund, was this in full?

  • Jamie Carter |

    We returned two weeks ago from a holiday in Cornwall. We rented a 4 bedroom house with a pool for £3,350 for the week.
    On the first day we removed pool cover and pool was green with algae. Owner returned and treated the pool and said not to use it until following afternoon.
    The children used it following afternoon and came out in rashes. Owner sent a pool company to investigate who said pool couldn’t have been treated for quite a while and they’d have to shock it, back wash the system etc and again it couldn’t be used until following afternoon. Meanwhile one of our children had to visit local GP and was given antibiotics for ear infection. Then on last day of holiday we returned to house in afternoon to find a sign saying not to use the pool and to call the pool company. Called them to be told the pool wasn’t fit for purpose, that the previous guests the week before also experienced problems, but they couldn’t disclose more because the property owner was their client. The toilet seats in two bathrooms were broken and a plumber was sent round to replace. We also experiened a catalogue of other issues which we outlined to the owner and agency, but received no response (copy below):
    -Shower head holder in ensuite bathroom, coming away from wall
    -Water regulator in family shower has come off
    -Shower in family bathroom filthy, mouldy
    -Curtain rail in single bedroom, hanging off wall (see photo)
    -Oven dirty (oven door filthy)
    -Fridges dirty and requires cleaning out
    -Windows are very dirty (see photo)
    -Most of plates chipped (see photo)
    -Three glasses broken, but put in cupboard
    -Freezer drawer in utility cracked/broken
    -It is only possible to run one tap in whole house at any one time(can’t run a tap or pull the flush and have a shower at same time)
    Although each on their own wouldn’t have been so bad, it was the accumulation of issues that made it unacceptable.
    The owner told me intially on the phone that 2 weeks prior, the people renting had left the house in bad shape.
    We have been unable to speak to the owner or the agency (the largest in the UK). I have held for more than an hour on the phone, each day, and sent numerous emails and supporting photos.
    As well as wanting reimbursement for our holiday, we also feel it is a healthy issue that needs resolving, especially during these COVID times, which other guests should not have to face.


    Our holiday cottage in St Ives was filthy, it had not been cleaned for months. I have photos of thick dust on areas of furniture, i had to bleach everywhere, the bath had never been scrubed, greasy film of dirt all around it, the plugs, to all sinks and bath had months of black dirt on them. The floors had other peoples hair, dirt, sand, and even nail clippings on it. The pull cord in bath room was thick with black dirt, mould, bacteria. The sofa and mat in living room was fit for the bin, and also very dirty. The bedroom was the same, the bed had urine stains on, hairs and sand. We couldn’t put clothes into the cupboards due to the dust and dirt. I find this so upsetting due to Covid 19 could of been on any of these dirty surfaces from previous guests.
    We arrived at 6,30pm sat 8th Aug, i tried to get reception to complain to companys main office, but closed and couldnt get through. So i bleach everywhere. Due to a six hour drive with traffic, i stayed up till early hours cleaning as so upset. I didnt really think of Corona 19 at the time.
    On Sunday all offices were closed. I wasnt aware of the emergency number.
    Monday spent day on beach trying to email, phone head affice again, no reception.
    Tuesday went into St Ives office to tell them how revolting the cottage was, asked them to contact head office for us. Told them we wanted a deep clean, and that we would be at the beach all day.
    Wednesday we had to complain again to St Ives office, we asked for a deep clean or to be moved. We was offered a cream tea, and a sorry…We was so insulted. .Even after we have showed the photos, and we have been put at risk of catching Covid 19. They told us they can not clean the property as we have been in it. And they couldnt move us. So we was stuck.. Due to the stress, we have asked for a full refund, also the property was not as described. Extremely tatty also. The agency will not give us a full refund, will not let us contact the owner directly, it has to be through them. They say we didnt give them enough time. But due to the situation i feel that they should of given us better service, and offered a solution. Feeling so upset as it caused my little girl with Autism alot of distress, she would not shut up about the germs, even after all floors were bleached, she had to be carried around, and would not wash in bathroom, we had to clean her on her quilt, ect..Nightmare…

    Thank you for any help. Tired and still so upset over the agents relaxed responce, they say ” We are sorry that ‘You’ feel that we put your health in danger ? They did, we entered a property that was not cleaned to Government guide lines..

    • Philip |

      Sorry to hear about your experience. Hopefully the advice on this page will help you resolve your complaint.

  • Jolanta Hill |

    We have been missold a “holiday cottage” which turned up to be a 2 bedrooms conversion flat in a big building, located in a typical residential area, which the original photographs fail to show.
    Secondly we raised our concerns immediately on arrival with the owner and she promised on the phone to refund us a full charge if we leave. Please note just few examples:
    * extremely tatty condition of the cottage
    * left dirty bedding on one bed
    * stained mattresses
    * carpets and rags filthy
    * greasy kitchen and unfit utensils (greasy, sticky and deeply damaged/scratched)
    * health and safety risk due to uncleanlines and lack of hygiene
    * no dish washer
    * no washing machine
    * check in imposed at 5 pm
    * aggressive owner arrived at 8pm to change bedding on one bed and when we complained she shouted us out: “Gooo, gooo, go!!!” We told her what she was doing was illegal.
    * she simply refused to look at our legitimate concerns raised regarding lack of hygiene and cleanliness, which was self evidence*
    * we were left shocked and decided to leave first thing the following morning and informed our decision to the owner , immediately, requesting a full refund. No response.
    * we informed her again in the morning and left the flat.
    * the website advertising the property say that take complaints seriously, but unable to do anything at the same time.

    The question is how and where to complain effectively for a full refund and a compensation for ruined holidays and for being subjected to and unhygienic accommodation? This is a situation where the owner is totally unreasonable.

    An advice would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

  • Emma Larue |

    It’s seems a lot of people are experiencing unfit holiday accommodation during the pandemic.
    We had a similar situation – complained but are being told what we’re saying is rubbish. We have photos though & proof so will take it to the small claims court if necessary –

    My question is – is there a Watchdog or Ombusdman for UK holiday rentals at all? Thanks

    • Philip |

      Is there a Watchdog or Ombusdman for UK holiday rentals at all? –
      Unfortunately not – however consumer law applies.

  • suzanne bluett |

    After long lockdown we went on a self catering cottage holiday near bideford devon for 14 day, cottage was extremely well equipped and very picturesque and made for the owners use, but there was a major downfall, the cottage had been gutted and rebuilt with stud walls and lower than average door frames thus causing three knocks to my husbands head, this cottage is dangerous to a person over 5ft 10inches of height. The owner and agents do not take responsibility. Having been requested by the owner to vacate the cottage we did so after just 3 days and agents and owners refuse to refund the loss of rest of holiday that was not taken. We cannot recommend this cottage to holiday visitors over the height if 5ft 10inch

  • Jules |

    Just returned from a holiday in Cornwall, paid £1395 for a cottage. On the third day tree felling started adjacent to the cottage with chainsaws and farm machinery going from 7.30 – 4 everyday until we left at the end of the week. We couldn’t enjoy the cottage, had to keep the windows shut and couldn’t sit in the garden because of noise. The company and owners weren’t interested as it wasn’t in the cottage grounds, albeit within 10ft and made no effort to talk to the neighbours about it. They claim they knew nothing about it which is strange as we live in a small village and everyone knows what’s happening! Do we have any grounds to claim compensation? Thanks

    • Philip |

      As this was outside of the owners/agents control, I’m not sure what they could have done about it.

  • Kathleen Webb |

    We have had to leave our holiday cottage early because although they said it was for families and the less able that is not the case. The windows are floor level with no locks and we had our 2 year old grandson with us. Although they advertise it is for the less able and there is a walk in shower again not the case you could only access the property via the patio door and there was a big step up into and no door mat which made it slippy when wet. There was a step down into the ground floor bathroom and bedroom not stated on the website. Bathroom was far to small and the toilet was to low no handrails anywhere the walk in shower is an actual tray. There are a lot more complaints but this is some of the main ones we contacted the agent after contacting the owners. We gave them a list of the problems and we found out other people had complained about these problems before. They didn’t do a deep clean for covid either but they have offered us £90 even though it cost us over £1000 and we left after 2 nights because it was so bad

  • Susan Hawley |

    We had a bungalow in Cornwall at the beginning of September booked through a letting company. The whole place was just so filthy and not just a weeks amount of dirt but weeks if not months.
    We complained within half an hour of getting there and invited the person in charge to inspect but no reply.
    They did offer a cleaner to come in but after a long journey and the fact that it would take hours to clean we declined.
    We left the property early and have exchanged several emails but they will not offer any money.
    I put a review on the internet stating facts and that has been removed so they are picking and choosing what reviews they keep.

  • Michelle Cockayne |

    We booked a farmhouse near Inverness (we are in the Midlands) for the beginning of September 2021. After driving hours to get there, we walked into the property where a dirty smell hit us. The febreze that they’d drenched the furniture in affected my husband, making him cough, there was dirty rooms, filthy ovens (two of them) and peeling and damp walls. We walked out and stayed in a hotel. I called the holiday company who wanted to send someone in to rectify the matter (this was at 4pm on a Sunday) but how can you rectifiy such issues?! I’ve tried to make a claim against the holiday company who liaised with the property owner on our behelf. The property owner refused us a refund and so I made a section 75 claim.

  • Helen Barber |

    this page is proving useful, hopefully it will help me claim back from the agent. Recently stayed in a property which had mostly good reviews, but a few older comments about dirty sofa and surfaces. As these were some time ago I felt sure they would have been addressed.

    When I arrived there was a half drunk bottle of wine in the fridge, crumbs on the tray, all seats, under the table. Build up of mould, dog hair and other materials in the washing machine, orange peel in the dishwasher, the bath was not clean, and there was dog hair and paw prints on many surfaces. None of the contact points were clean, even basically and the agent have a glossy leaflet advertising enhanced cleaning for Covid. I spent over an hour cleaning what I could with one cloth and washing liquid, no other supplies. Dirty mop and dustpan left in kitchen for stay and the bedroom with carpet hadn’t been hoovered.

    I then found late at night the only smoke alarm was not working. I tested it and researched it and the owners did change it the next day. The point was it had not been cleaned or checked, suggestions on many sites say it should be checked on handover. The owners indicated it was checked with the PAT testing in April, some 9 months before I stayed.

    I pointed out the dirty, and a little was cleaned but it still was horrid. And I was using towels and sheets which had been washed in dirty washer drier (it was warm when I arrived). People had left the property that morning and even with a later check in, the house was not clean and the fear is then Covid, amongst other germs.

    I raised this with the agent, with a lot of photos, on the Monday. They seemed concerned and to take on board what I said, including allowing the owner to address it. This week they said the owners had 72 hours to reply which has now gone. Not sure what the owners can say as there is evidence the property wasn’t clean and I could not use the advertised facilities.

    Now going to take the advice further down the page and write a formal letter of complaint to them

  • Mrs Harrington |

    We booked a cottage for seven nights but left after only three. My daughter was getting bitten, we then noticed fleas jumping. We notified the owner of the cottage who seemed genuinely apologetic, and she said she would contact her cleaners. Next we heard from the company, who said they would find another place for us to stay, this would take some time. We pointed out that our clothes would probably now have fleas on them. They offered a refund on the days we didn’t stay.
    We couldn’t stay there any longer and packed up our stuff. Now I’m continually cleaning and washing, buying products to eradicate the flea problem we have in our house. I have been in tears as I’m so upset , I was looking forward to relaxing with my family. Now I’m working harder than ever. Our car also has fleas in it. We’ve thrown cushions and car mats out, also our cases.
    They say the owner is not willing to give us any more money. They gave us £150 more and said that’s all we are entitled to, surely we are entitled to some kind of compensation.

  • Mrs Jones |

    Currently renting a bungalow in Wales. Went out in the garden yesterday morning to see that the manhole was over flowing. Both drains have been blocked for months. Called agent and left msg as no one picked up. Then I called the owner who said he’d get in touch with his builder. I said no, it needs someone to come and sort the drains out. At no point did I hear from the agent. I stayed in and have missed a day’s holiday as the plumber needed access to garage etc which would have been inaccessible if I hadn’t been there and the toilets could have overflowed etc. I was then left to clear up the detritus. I have made a complaint x 2 in writing to the agent who said they’d heard from the owner it was resolved and didn’t realise they wanted them to contact me despite the welcome text msg I received on arrival for urgent matters to call asap. I’ve requested a day’s holiday refund. At no point have they sent anyone to clean up, nor said they’d come and oversee the works were carried out etc. I intend on getting a refund for the day missed.

  • Carole |

    We booked a cottage for over the Christmas period and my big 70th birthday for all our family, it was 5 bedroom to accommodate 6 adults 2 children and a baby. When we all went to bed there was noises coming from the attic we all heard it, we thought it was just something got in the attic anyway it carried on, so on the 3rd day we rang the agent who told us to ring the owner but we had no number so the agent spoke to the owner then sent us a message to say she was aware there is a problem, but she thought it was sorted and she would contact the pest control to let them know. This really ruined our special family holiday one of my granddaughters had to come home early because she was terrified no one slept because of the noise every night. The owner gave us £100 refund we told them that was not enough for what we have had to put up with but that is all we are getting and the agent said it is up to the owner as the contract is with the owner.
    We asked for 25% refund which i think is a fair price we paid over £2000 for the week

Write a Comment



See how much you could save!

Click here to start your quote