NBC 5 Helps Consumer Get Vacation Home Deposit Back

They left the place nice and tidy and were looking forward to that $500 deposit refund, but it took them five months to get it back.

Aimee Hoelscher planned a fabulous family trip to Costa Rica earlier this year.

She rented a house through VRBO, an online vacation rental company.

"It had beautiful views. It was very spacious, had iguanas outside by the pool and so yeah the house was nice," she said.

For three nights, the rent came out to $613.

"And then there was a $500 damage deposit. A refundable damage deposit," Hoelscher said.

She wasn’t particularly fond of paying it, but the VRBO website put her at ease.

"100 percent of your security deposit is covered if it’s wrongfully withheld," she read. 

Overall she said the trip was a hit. They left the place nice and tidy and were looking forward to that $500.

But when they got back to Arlington, she said the money was not in her account.

"They (VRBO) at first told me that it had been deposited into my account on Feb. 1," Hoelscher said.

But she said it wasn't there. She contacted the owner of the home again to see if there was anything he could do.

He said he didn’t have the money and told VRBO there was no damage, so they could release the deposit.

She said that didn’t work either.

"They’re supposed to be this third-party that steps in and mediates for you and I was very angry because they weren’t doing their job," Hoelscher said. " I didn’t know what else to do and my husband said you should contact NBC 5."

We asked VRBO why Hoelscher couldn’t get her deposit back, and the parent company, HomeAway responded:

“Travelers who book directly through the HomeAway website are protected against things like double-bookings or wrongfully withheld deposits thanks to our book with confidence guarantee. In this case, a technical error delayed reimbursement but the error has since been resolved. We regret any inconvenience this delay caused.”

And after waiting five long months, Hoelscher finally got her $500 deposit back.

"I am very happy that I called NBC 5," she said.

If you’re going to rent a vacation home, or any home for that matter, here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions: 

  • Take pictures of the house when you arrive and when you leave.
  • If you’re having problems getting back your security deposit, send the company your pictures showing how you left the place.
  • Make sure you read through the security deposit policy before handing it over
  • If that doesn’t work, contact the NBC 5 Responds team here.
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