How to interpret a rental agreement regarding refunds?

I rented house for a long holiday week-end. Then 3 days before the owner let me know (by my phone) that the access road to the house is impassable with large holes left from flood conditions. Also, the sunroom was flooded and needs to be cleaned, including the rug. I asked him for a refund but he refuses pointing out that the rental agreement states, ” No refunds will be given for storms. Mountain roads can be curvy and steep. Gravel drives are well maintained and plowed when needed: however, we highly recommend 4 wheel drive, and/or chains during the snow months. We do not refund due to road conditions”. Sentence 1 does not apply because we were coming after the storm. Sentence 2 does not apply either since we were ready to drive there. Does he have a right to do that? Can he keep our money?

Asked on September 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

From what you have written, it does not seem that the owner of the rental is allowed to keep the money that you paid to rent the unit but were unable to rent for the following reasons:

1. the unit was not in any shape to rent due to the sunroom having been flooded and needing to be cleaned;

2. access to the rental was impassable due to large holes due to flooding. As such, you would not have been able to reach the rental even if you drove a four wheel drive vehicle to get there.

I would the owner of the property demanding the return of your money due to his inability to provide you access with a clean and dry unit as agreed to by a certain date. If not paid by then, your option is either to give up on the money paid or file an action (small claoms court).

Good luck.


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