What to do if the proprietor of a vacation home wrongly accused tenants of wrecking thepPlace and charged fees on their credit card?

Some friends of mine recently rented a cabin in TN in which they stayed over the span of 2 nights. They left the cabin in good condition, cleaned up after themselves, and didn’t damage any of the cabin or surrounding property. To their dismay, the proprietor accused them of leaving the hot water running, and not cleaning the cabin before they left, among other accusations. Further, she decided to charge them hundreds of dollars in fees for what she deemed as service fees for having to clean and repair the cabin without even telling them. They would like the money returned. Is this a small claims matter?

Asked on September 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Accusations are fine but proof is what she needs in order to make the case stick.  Did your friend's take pictures of the place before they left?  I hope so. But the first thing that they need to do is to call their credit cards and file a complaint about the charges and ask that they be taken off their cards at this time.  They need to file what is known as a dispute.  Then I agree that they need to file a small claims action for return of the security deposit.  But are they also in Wisconsin? And the landlord is in Tennessee?  That could be a problem.  I would also look up the law on security deposits in Tennessee to see of there is a time frame or demand requirement.  I would also demand that she give them receipts for the work allegedly done and proof of the damage.  Good luck.


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