When am I required to give guests a refund?
A guest has the right to a refund if something has changed in the accommodation promised. For example, if you no longer have a 3 bedroom house and are only able to offer them 2 bedrooms. Or if there is something substantially mis-advertised in your brochure or website, such as an elevator or handicapped facilities that are not available.
If guests change their mind after you have taken their deposit you have no obligation to provide a refund. You don’t need to provide a refund if the customer does not like the accommodation or finds cheaper accommodation elsewhere and cancels their booking.
In addition, you cannot be held responsible for external environmental conditions which are outside your control such as rain, wind, lack of sun or snow. This is all part of going on holiday and if a guest decides to cancel their accommodation on this basis, they are not entitled to a refund.
To be safe, ensure your guests understand your Terms and make your cancellation fees and Conditions clear in advance.
What if I accidentally take two bookings that overlap?
When you agree to a booking and accept a deposit you are essentially making a contract with your guest. You have to honour this agreement, just as you would with any contract. After all, you are expecting your guests to honour their booking obligation and they expect the same from you.
If you have made an error, you are obliged to fix it and put the guest in the same or a similar position so that they are not disadvantaged. You will need to try and find similar accommodation and/or compensate them for any difference. You should let them know immediately upon realizing your error and make all efforts to rectify the situation.